Hydrothermal Vent Animals: Distribution and Biology

Science  23 Aug 1985:
Vol. 229, Issue 4715, pp. 713-717
DOI: 10.1126/science.229.4715.713


Hydrothermal vent communities characterized by large clams, mussels, and vestimentiferan worms thrive on chemosynthetic microbial production. There are similarities in the animal distributions at vent communities from 20°S to 46°N on the Mid-Ocean Ridge in the Pacific Ocean and at cold sulfide seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. Vent communities, consisting of at least 16 previously unknown families of invertebrates, are at least 200 million years old. Since the life-span of a vent is only tens of years, the species survive by rapid growth and widespread dispersal of larvae with the subsequent colonization of new vents.