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extremophiles panspermia microbes bacteria archaeans origin of lifeAn extremophile (from Latin extremus meaning "extreme" and Greek philiā (φιλία) meaning "love") is an organism that thrives in and even may require physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental to the majority of life on Earth.

Most known extremophiles are microbes. The domain Archaea contains renowned examples, but extremophiles are present in numerous and diverse genetic lineages of both bacteria and archaeans. Furthermore, it is erroneous to use the term extremophile to encompass all archaeans, as some are mesophilic. Neither are all extremophiles unicellular; protostome animals found in similar environments include the Pompeii worm, the psychrophilic Grylloblattodea (insects), Antarctic krill (a crustacean), and the "water bear".

There are many different classes of extremophiles, each corresponding to the way its environmental niche differs from mesophilic conditions. These classifications are not exclusive. Many extremophiles fall under multiple categories. For example, organisms living inside hot rocks deep under Earth's surface are both thermophilic and barophilic.

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