发布时间：2016-06-23 来源：新东方在线 发布人：zolo
Once it seemed that the ocean floor was a desert of darkness. As everyone knew, sunlight was what made life possible by fueling photosynthesis, and sunlight can penetrate only the first few hundred yards of the ocean’s great depths. Lower, a few creatures might still eke out a living by scrounging the organic detritus that drifts down from the surface of the sea. But thousands of feet down, in the utter blackness at the ocean’s bottom, there could be practically nothing.
Then, in 1977, underwater explorers discovered that there was in fact something, and quite a lot of it. At mid-ocean ridges, where new ocean floor rises up as molten rock from Earth’s interior, where cold seawater mixes with the rising magma and, heated to 650 degrees, spews back up through chimney-shaped hydrothermal vents, researchers stumbled across bustling ecosystems. Clinging to the sides of the chimneys were thick white mats of bacteria; around them were eight-foot-long stalk-shaped worms, rocking in the water, while eyeless shrimp seethed around the chimneys like maggots. All were thriving on the energy bound up in the vents’ sulfur compounds. The seafloor might still be dark, but now it was known to be dotted with gardens.
In just the past eight years, however, underwater explorers have discovered that this picture is still incomplete: there is light at the bottom of the sea. Hydrothermal vents glow, and while the light is too faint to be perceived by the human eye, that hardly means it is without significance. Physicists maintain that although some of the light may be created by the intense heat, much of it must be attributed to some as-yet- unknown process. Biologists, meanwhile, say there is sufficient light at these vents for photosynthesis to take place. Researchers can’t say yet whether any creatures are actually living off this light, but if they are, they will represent the first known instance of natural photosynthesis without sunlight. The evolutionary implications may run deeper: it’s possible not only that this deep light is fueling photosynthesis now, but that, 3.8 billion years ago, it got the whole process started.
thousands of feet down
bound up in
light at the bottom of the sea
photosynthesis without sunlight