We tend to think of bacteria existing only in places where other life forms can be found, such as in our gut, the kitchen, forests, and ponds.

However, plenty of bacteria require no such environment and can be found in some truly obscure and surprising places on this planet and beyond.

Below, is a list of the top 10 places you would never expect to find bacteria.

10Inside Solid Rock

It was long believed that one of the requirements for life to exist was sunlight. Even organisms not directly exposed to the Sun (such as those residing in your gut) would consume organic matter that at one point was synthesized with the help of sunlight.

Recently, however, this dogma has been called into question. A team of scientists investigating a South African gold mine has discovered bacteria over 1.5 miles below the ground that seem to subsist purely off of radioactive waste.

The uranium, thorium, and potassium in the surrounding rock formation seem to have just the right amount of energy to break down water molecules, which leads to the production of hydrogen peroxide and sulfates.

The radiation breaks down the water molecules into two atoms of hydrogen and a single atom of oxygen, which combine with other water molecules to form hydrogen peroxide.

The hydrogen peroxide then reacts with pyrite (fool’s gold) to produce sulfate ions, which the bacteria feast upon with great relish.

And these lonely microbes seem to be in no rush to leave their rocky fortress. Whereas much of the bacteria we encounter on a daily basis—such as E. coli—divides almost daily, this rock-dwelling bacteria is estimated to divide between once a year and once every 300 years.


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