Blob The Builder

July182016

Well, actually not a blob but a microbe!

In 2013, snorkelers discovered what they thought was the ruin of an ancient city lost underwater off the coast of the Greek island of Zakynthos. The scientists who came to excavate the ruins were surprised to find no pottery shards, or other evidence of human civilization mixed in with the columns, paving stones, and mysterious donut-shaped rings. Puzzled, the researchers collected samples from the formations and found that the “city” was in fact built by methane-consuming microbes, not the ancient Greeks at all!  According to the scientists, approximately 3-4 million years ago microbes thrived around vents in the seafloor that released large quantities of methane (sort of like a big ocean fart). The microbes ate the methane and excreted the minerals that formed the mysterious structures. After thousands of years, erosion exposed the formations creating the appearance of an ancient lost city. Although the scientists didn’t find any buried treasure, they are hoping that the discovery will help them better understand the geology of the region.

The discovery even inspired the researchers to create a new saying: “Columns and pavements in the sea, not always antiquities will be.”

Want to learn more? Visit https://www.sciencenews.org/article/underwater-city-was-built-microbes-not-people?tgt=nr

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