PHILIPPE CRASSOUS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE CRASSOUS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Deep ocean scale worm (Lepidonotopodium jouinae), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) showing close-up of mouthparts. This species of worm was collected from the edge of a hydrothermal vent 'black smoker' 1,700 metres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Scale worms feed on bacteria that live directly off minerals released by the vents (a process known as chemosynthesis). The worms also host a population of symbiotic bacteria that may supply the worm with additional nutrients. Hydrothermal vents are found along geologically active zones deep underwater. The vents release superheated water and dense mineral deposits, forming huge towers that support a wide variety of fauna.
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