Lobby > Exhibits > Hot Spring Ecology > Microbes
Microorganisms called thermophiles, or heat lovers, make their homes in the
hydrothermal features of Yellowstone. Although individually they are too small to
be seen with the naked eye, so many are grouped together in the park’s hydrothermal
features—trillions!—that they often appear as masses of color. These organisms include
algae, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and archaea (ar-key-ah).
Many of these microorganisms are also called extremophiles because they inhabit
environments that are extreme to human life. Imagine living in near-boiling temperatures,
in hydrothermal features with the alkalinity of baking soda, or in water so acidic
that it can burn holes in clothing; microorganisms in Yellowstone not only exist in
such conditions, but require these extremes to thrive!
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