Even in the age of satellite imagery, commercial flight, modern medicine, and plenty of other perks unavailable to the explorers of earlier ages, there are still some crannies on Earth left unexplored. But that’s because exploring them is an extreme endeavor. The race to get to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest place on Earth, now includes billionaires Richard Branson and James Cameron, each working on specialized submersibles. Eliza Strickland of IEEE Spectrum traveled to the epicenter of the activity near the Mariana Islands and reports back in a fascinating feature.
Researchers have found new examples of the strange singled-celled creatures called xenophyophores more than six miles beneath the surface of the Pacific in the Mariana Trench. At more than four inches in length, they are perhaps the largest single-celled organism on Earth. These protists make a living by sifting through sediments and can accumulate high levels of toxic metals like uranium, lead, and mercury.
Read more at LiveScience.
Image: Lisa Levin & David Checkley, Scripps Institution of Oceanography