Questions for ‘World’s deepest zoo harbors clues to extraterrestrial life’

This Monhystrella parvella worm found inside a stalactite in South Africa’s Beatrix gold mine.

Gaetan Borgonie

To accompany feature “World’s deepest zoo harbors clues to extraterrestrial life”


Before Reading:

1. What factors are necessary for life? List at least three and explain their importance?

2. Name three unexpected places where creatures might live on Earth. Explain why you chose them and that site.

During Reading: 

1. What is a geomicrobiologist?

2. Why are scientists looking for living things in mines and other deep places?

3. How is Earth’s surface like Swiss cheese?

4. Why can’t scientists grow each and every type of bacterial species in the lab?

5. What is the source of food for bacteria living underground?

6. Why did Gaetan Borgonie go looking for worms deep underground?

7. Why might living deep underground be good for such critters?

8. What does an astrobiologist do?

9. Name three places in the solar system, other than Earth, where scientists will look for signs of life.

10. Based on the article, what momentous thing is expected to happen in 2018?

After Reading: 

1. Based on your reading of this story, name two places — other than mines or caves — that might harbor deep life. (They can be places on Earth, but they don’t have to be.) Explain your reasoning. How might scientists explore those places?

2. Do you think that life might exist on other planets or moons of the solar system? Explain your answer using evidence from the story.


1. Gaetan Borgonia searched through 60 bathtubs worth of water to find a single worm. If a bathtub holds 80 liters (20 gallons) of water, how many liters (or gallons) of water would Borgonia have to search through, on average, to find 3, 11 and 408 worms? Show your work.