Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Endeavour. 2006 Dec;30(4):131-7. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

Deserts on the sea floor: Edward Forbes and his azoic hypothesis for a lifeless deep ocean.

Author information

1
George Deacon Division, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK. tra@noc.soton.ac.uk

Abstract

While dredging in the Aegean Sea during the mid-19th century, Manxman Edward Forbes noticed that plants and animals became progressively more impoverished the greater the depth they were from the surface of the water. By extrapolation Forbes proposed his now infamous azoic hypothesis, namely that life would be extinguished altogether in the murky depths of the deep ocean. The whole idea seemed so entirely logical given the enormous pressure, cold and eternal darkness of this apparently uninhabitable environment. Yet we now know that the sea floor is teeming with life. Curiously, it took 25 years for the azoic hypothesis to fall from grace. This was despite the presence of ample contrary evidence, including starfishes, worms and other organisms that seemingly originated from the deep seabed. This is a tale of scientists ignoring observations that ran counter to their deep-seated, yet entirely erroneous, beliefs.

PMID:
17097733
DOI:
10.1016/j.endeavour.2006.10.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center