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Study: Aliens may be living in lakes of oil

Photo of Pitch Lake. Courtesy: Shriram Rajagopalan/ Flickr Creative Commons

Photo of Pitch Lake. Courtesy: Shriram Rajagopalan/ Flickr Creative Commons

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, August 8, 2014, 4:57 PM - A new study suggests that tiny aliens may be living in asphalt lakes somewhere our galaxy.

Life has been found at extreme temperatures and in the harshest of conditions -- but there are a few places where scientists believe it cannot exist.

For years, oil was considered too toxic to sustain life, until a new study turned that theory on its head.

Researchers have discovered microbes living inside water droplets in Pitch Lake, a massive asphalt lake in Trinidad and Tobago that sends liquid oil bubbling up to the surface.

"Each of these water droplets basically contains a little mini-ecosystem," study co-author Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University told Live Science.

RELATED: Seven alien landscapes found here on Earth

It's believed the microbes originated from subsurface water droplets and rose up along with the oil.

The recent discovery is renewing interest in Saturn's moon Titan, which has similar lakes on its surface. It's theorized that tiny aliens may be living inside these oily lakes.

In the meantime, researchers plan to take a closer look at Pitch Lake's "tiny ecosystems" in hopes they will shed new light on how alien microbes may behave.

The complete paper was published Friday in the journal Science.

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