Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Exploring the changing seafloor

In the space of five years, the volcanic vent NW Rota-1, near Guam, built up a new cone 40 meters high and 300 across. THe ecosytem around it changed as new vents opened and new life forms colonized the evolving topography. A National Sceince Foundation - funded team has been watching the evolution of the seafloor in fast forward, as it were. They studied new processes, the appearance of species only known from a long distance away (how does a shrimp from the site. "The 'Loihi' shrimp has adapted to grazing the bacterial filaments with tiny claws like garden shears. The second shrimp is a new species--they also graze as juveniles, but as they grow to adult stage, their front claws enlarge and they become predators."

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