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Scientists revive weird cave crystal microbes

Cave crystals
Crystals dwarf an explorer in Mexico’s Naica cave complex. (Photo by Alexander Van Driessche – CC BY 3.0)

BOSTON – It sounds like a sci-fi tale: Scientists manage to revive strains of microbes that have been trapped inside giant cave crystals for tens of thousands of years, and find out that they seem positively alien.

But this tale is totally real. And although these organisms are so unlike anything else on Earth that they haven’t yet been given a genus or species name, they’re totally terrestrial.

“They’re really showing us what our kind of life can do,” said Penny Boston, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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