Antarctic sandstone sample containing micro-organisms.
3 3 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 25cm

Antarctic sandstone sample containing micro-organisms.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


This sample was collected in the 1990s by Dr David Wynn-Williams of the British Antarctic Survey. The grey-green layer beneath the surface consists of micro-organisms which can survive the cold of Antarctica by living within the rock and metabolising very slowly; any one carbon atom takes thousands of years to pas through their bodies. Their viability demonstrates the resilience of living organisms which may one day be found in extra-terrestrial environments.

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