There are a huge variety of other fauna that inhabit hydrothermal
Some like tube worms live symbiotically with the chemoautotrophic mircrobes others eat the microbes, others still hang at the very edge of the vent eating the scraps of other organisms.
Vent species are very distinct since they live in an extremely hostile environment it is not surprising that only 7% of known species can be found outside the vent habitat. Of all the vent species 93% is composed of molluscs, polchaetes and arthropods.
Hydrothermal vent fauna in general exhibit an unusual trait in that they grow rapidly and reproduce young. Originally this was thought to be a an adaptation to the unpredictable nature of hydrothermal vents. Recent evidence suggest that it rapid growth and early reproduction might have more to do with the toxic environment that the fauna live in. Hydrothermal vents spew out mutagenic and carcinogenic substances. By growing rapidly and reproducing earlier fauna will allow them to repair their DNA minimizing damage from the toxic environment.
Photo of a snake fish Courtesy of BRIDGE
Sources: BRIDGE, V. Tunnicliffe
Return to fauna main page