Origins of life

, Volume 14, Issue 1–4, pp 771–776 | Cite as

The antarctic cryptoendolithic ecosystem: Relevance to exobiology

  • E. I. Friedmann
  • R. Ocampo-Friedmann


Cryptoendolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic desert liver inside porous sandstone rocks, protected by a thin rock crust. While the rock surface is abiotic, the microclimate inside the rock is comparatively mild. These organisms may have descended from early, pre-glaciation Antarctic life forms and thus may represent the last outpost of life in a gradually deterorating environment. Assuming that life once arose on Mars, it is conceivable that, following the loss of water, the last of surviving organisms withdrew to similar insulated microenvironments. Because such microscopic pockets have little connection with the outside environment, their detection may be difficult. The chances that the Viking lander could sample cryptoendolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic desert would be infinitesimal.


Organic Chemistry Sandstone Geochemistry Life Form Rock Surface 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. I. Friedmann
    • 1
  • R. Ocampo-Friedmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahassee

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