Windows Into Wonderland
Photos of a mudpot, magnified view of sulfolobus, and a colorful runnoff channel.
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Where the Bison Roam

Act 1,  Scene 3,  Page 15 of 47

When you say these microbes live in the park’s hydrothermal features, surely you don’t mean that the way it sounds. How can anything live in scalding water?

That’s exactly what I do mean! Many of these microorganisms go beyond the limits of life as we know it. We call them “extremophiles,” or lovers of environments that are extreme to humans. Some of the microbes found in the Mud Volcano area eat sulfur and live in the sulfuric acid which they themselves produce in the hot springs!

You can’t be serious!

I’m not joking, Inspector. We don’t even know how many different species of microorganisms live in the park’s hydrothermal features, but we estimate more than 99% of them haven’t been identified!

—a lover of an environment that is extreme to humans
sulfur—pale yellow, nonmetallic element; sulfuric (adj.)

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