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First view of chemosynthetic life

First Glimpse

This series of photos taken by the WHOI deep-tow camera ANGUS in 1977 provided the first view of the unexpectedly diverse, abundant communities of life on a seafloor once thought to be largely barren and empty. The find resulted in the stunning discovery of hydrothermal vents and of organisms thriving on the chemicals pouring from them. Later today, watch a webcast of Dr. Robert Ballard, co-chief scientist on that cruise of discovery, in “Life Without Sunlight,” a live-streamed public event marking 40 years since hydrothermal vents changed our view of life on Earth—and what that could mean for the search for life beyond our planet. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)

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