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Yellowstone National Park thermal pool yields microbes hiding in rock

April 22, 2005View for printing

Imagine living in a pool so sharply acidic that it dissolves nails.

Somehow an entire community of tiny rock-dwelling microbes did just that in Yellowstone National Park, according to a new discovery that could shed light on ancient life on Earth and the possibility of life on Mars.

Jeffrey Walker stumbled on it in August 2003 while helping another University of Colorado researcher who was trying to learn what gives microbes the energy to survive in Yellowstone's superheated environments.

Walker said he spotted a football-sized rock near Cinder Pool at Norris Geyser Basin and decided to look inside.

"I'm in the habit of cracking rocks open," said Walker, a doctoral student at Colorado.

By MIKE STARK Of The Gazette Staff

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