Busy bacteria leave big mark

Earth’s earliest life-forms built mounds on an Antarctic lake bottom

By Stephen Ornes, 14:42 PM May 4, 2011




Scientists recently dove into Lake Untersee, a large freshwater lake in Antarctica, and discovered fields of cone-shaped mounds on the lake floor. Though they look like spooky, alien traffic cones, these mounds aren’t the work of extraterrestrials. The scientists say the cones, called stromatolites, were built by bacteria, and the construction project probably took thousands of years.


“We had never seen anything like that,” Dale Andersen told Science News. “It totally blew us away.”



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