The Naica mine in Chihuahua, Mexico is full of crystals thicker than tree trunks. It’s also radically absent of sunlight, insufferably acidic, and well over a hundred degrees on its coldest day. To say it is considered inhabitable is an understatement.
It’s also false.
NASA scientists have just discovered microbial life forms asleep in this cave for 50,000 years. They have evolved to withstand the harshest environments. Unable to photosynthesize in their pitch black environment, they have adapted to ingest iron and sulfur from their crystal habitats. Further, despite their deep hibernation, they have remained vigilant enough to actively regrow their population generation after generation.
What does this mean for science? The discovery of these little creatures opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. These animals reshape the norm of hospitable living, suggesting endless branches of new organisms able to withstand all sorts of environments once considered inhabitable. This of course includes the Naica mine, but doesn’t stop before it reaches somewhere… extraterrestrial.
Below is a video encapsulating everything you need to know about the Naica mine, listed in Atlas Obscura’s “100 Wonders” series.
The world’s a pretty incredible place.