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And recently a tube worm community was found living on solid methane hydrate on the ocean floor.Apart from temperature and the chemical used for energy, a major difference between vent and cold seep ecosystems is the rate of growth.
Some researchers have speculated that life began in extreme environments similar to hydrothermal vents.
Others have even suggested that if these environments exist on other planets, then life might very well exist there too.
These rare geological features turned out to be oases on the otherwise sparsely inhabited ocean floor, with a biomass equivalent to that of a rainforest.
..no other on Earth At first glance, the animals inhabiting deep-sea hydrothermal vents may not seem so dissimilar to other deep-sea creatures.
Even without sunlight, most life in the deep sea is still dependent on the sun.
The dead organic matter on which these animals and bacteria feed ultimately comes from phytoplankton and other plants and organisms that harness sunlight to create energy in a process called photosynthesis.
Other vent life also appears to be more closely related to ancient animals than to animals living closer to the ocean's surface.
Indeed, vent animals on opposite sites of the globe are more closely related to each other than to those living outside the vent ecosystem, just a few metres away.
Until recently, all life on Earth was believed to be dependent on the sun.
But in the last 30 years, several new deep-sea ecosystems have been discovered that utilize an alternative source of energy.