Toxin Lovers

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on May 14, 2011
Featured in News to Know

Carboxydotrophs—microbes that derive their energy from carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide—are said to be a clue to the earth’s early atmosphere.

Microorganisms which subsist on carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide have been found near deep-sea thermal vents, in the soil, and even in chimney scrapings. LiveScience reports on some in the Uzon-Caldera hot springs on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Investigators say that these microbes are not only consuming carbon monoxide but also producing it. No further details are provided about this as-yet-unpublished study.

Plenty of inferences are provided, however. Evolutionary scientists claim that earth’s “early atmosphere” prior to 2.5 billion years ago consisted of primarily “carbon dioxide and possibly methane.” Because of this study, the researchers conjecture that microbes like these could have increased atmospheric carbon monoxide, forcing other microbes to “develop strategies for coping with the high concentrations” of this toxic gas.

Carboxydotrophs are known to subsist on carbon monoxide, turning it into carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas. Most of these can also live on carbon dioxide and hydrogen, essentially running the same chemical reaction in reverse. Thus, the actual discovery here is not unique. The proposal that these organisms drove evolution by creating a toxic atmosphere, however, is pure conjecture.

Creationists are not shocked to find exotic life-forms thriving in unusual places. When God created the earth and filled it with living things, He created fully functional creatures suited for many environments and with the capacity to adapt to others. The “extremophiles” may well have occupied a crucial ecological niche from the beginning.

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