Scientists have always thought that colorful mineral deposits in caves are the work of geology, not biology - but they were wrong: unusual deposits may actually be microbial poop!
"We're finding that you need to look at things you might write off as not being biological—they might be biological," said Penelope Boston, a cave scientist at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.
The microbes were found on the walls of lava tubes in Hawaii, New Mexico, and the Portuguese Azores islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean (see map).
The finds include "a lovely blue-green ooze dripping out of the [cave] ceiling in Hawaii; a vein of what looks like a gold, crunchy mineral in New Mexico; and, in the Azores, amazing pink hexagons," said Diana Northup, a geomicrobiologist at the University of New Mexico.
"That's the waste—the bug poop, if you will."
Link (Photo: Kenneth Ingham)