Imagine Aliens - Tiny

You’re lazily floating through the boiling water – you and about a million of your little friends. The rainbow-coloured rocks of the hot spring glow in the midday sun. Suddenly, a dark, rectangular shadow spreads across the water and a tube splashes into the eddy. Moments later, there’s a mechanical whistling, and a tinny voice squawks “Life detected!” But you’re a microbe and have no ears. And you don’t care. You just keep floating through the boiling water.

If we’re going to find life beyond Earth, it’s most likely to be on the tiniest scale: microbes, bacteria, or maybe something resembling plankton. Scientists suggest that ‘tiny life’ was probably the first kind of life to emerge on our planet. It makes sense to presume that on other worlds, the process may be similar.

Just because an organism is small in scale (well, compared to us humans, anyway), that doesn’t mean that it’s simple. The microscopic world is a fascinating jungle of unusual shapes and lifestyles. Many of them look rather alien!

Discover the microcosmos below: