The Atacama Desert in Chile is just about the driest place on Earth. In spots, it looks a lot like Mars. But it's not lifeless, even in the hyper-arid regions. Using state-of-the-art equipment to probe the desert rocks, researchers found bits of DNA from an intriguing mix of microbes.
Strikingly, 9 percent of the genetic fragments belong to organisms unknown to science, making them part of the "dark microbiome," according to a report published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.