Get David Bowie on the line and let him know that life on Mars just became a little more plausible, thanks to the discovery of hearty life forms on Earth. Some South American volcanoes–sporting rocky terrain, thin atmosphere, and high radiation much like the red planet–have also been proven to host rudimentary organisms that remain hearty despite inhospitable environs.
A new DNA analysis of their rocky soil by a team of University of Colorado researchers has revealed unique forms of bacteria, fungi, and a microbe believed to be able to convert energy via chemical reactions from wisps of gases like carbon monoxide and dimethyl sulfide, which blow into the mountain area.
Researchers are looking to recreate extreme conditions in the lab to better understand these newfound organisms, which could prove life may not be nearly as fragile as once thought. At the microbial level, it’s like studying Martians without ever having to get on a rocket.