Niche Masters

Land Ho!

1400 MYA

Bacteria move inland, still testing their breathy expertise in new niches. They quickly settle into rivers, ponds, and the soils which erosion processes are rapidly creating.

A few ambitious microbes advance to a rough frontier. Expanses of desert become crust-covered communities. Although rare today, these ancient communities still bind the grains of desert sands.

Just as their early bacterial ancestors loved hot springs and acid, some microbes spread in icy climes. The particularly rugged outdoor types take to bare rock and mountain heights, with a breadth of metabolic startegies to meet their needs.

These Norwegian cliffs teem with cyanobacteria that are virtually identical to their rugged fossilized ancestors. (Photography by Susan Campbell)

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