Science: Strange Creatures of the Deep

At 8,500ft., ocean life that does not depend on the sun

In 1977, while exploring an area of hot volcanic geysers on the Pacific Ocean floor near the Galapagos Islands, scientists aboard the three-man submarine Alvin made a startling discovery. Though they were cruising at a depth of more than 1½ miles, where the absence of sunlight usually results in a barren sea bottom, they found a veritable oasis of life. Clustered around deep-ocean vents, they spotted giant clams, pale yellow mussels, white crabs and worms nearly 5 ft. long.

Since then, scientific astonishment over...

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