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Earth May Harbor a Shadow Biosphere of Alien Life 267

An anonymous reader sends us to Cosmos Magazine for a speculative article arguing that a 'shadow biosphere' may exist on Earth, unrelated to life as we know it. If such non-carbon-based life were found here at home, it would alter the odds for how common life is elsewhere in the universe, astrobiologists say. "The tools and experiments researchers use to look for new forms of life — such as those on missions to Mars — would not detect biochemistries different from our own, making it easy for scientists to miss alien life, even if [it] was under their noses. ... Scientists are looking in places where life isn't expected — for example, in areas of extreme heat, cold, salt, radiation, dryness, or contaminated streams and rivers. [One researcher] is particularly interested in places that are heavily contaminated with arsenic, which, he suggests, might support forms of life that use arsenic the way life as we know it uses phosphorus."

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