Exploring an Ancient Cave
In the southeast of Romania, there is an ancient cave that has been sealed for over 5 million years – since our distant ancestors came down from the trees. Despite no light, low oxygen, and a poisonous atmosphere, it is teeming with alien-looking life including 33 unique species. The primary producers of this subterranean world are different bacteria that oxidise sulphur, methane, and carbon dioxide in what is an entirely unique cave ecosystem. It’s not somewhere you’d want to go, as it’s teeming with strange insects with extra-long appendages to help them navigate the dark. Perhaps even stranger is that it’s right next to the suburbs.
Life on the Moon
We may have accidentally populated the Moon with tardigrades, which are near-indestructible tiny animals. An Israeli space probe that was carrying the micro animals (among other things) crash-landed on the Moon late in 2016. No one knows at this point if they are still stored inside their box, if the box has cracked, or if the animals are capable of surviving on the lunar surface.
This hummingbird sitting on a ‘Heliconia rostrata’. Neither creature is conscious of it, but both have been made for each other by a multi-million-year-old evolutionary partnership between their species. Among other things, the flower became downward-facing and vibrantly red, and the bird became small, long-beaked, and long-tongued.