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Extremophiles are life forms that live and thrive in environmental conditions considered extreme or even uninhabitable for most other forms of life.

It's important to note that in order to qualify as an extremophile, a creature must be actually more comfortable in its extreme environment than in a "conventional" one (or at very least just as comfortable). Those which can tolerate extreme environments in some way, but feel more at home in "conventional" conditions are not extremophiles.

Extremophiles can be further classified according to the specific environmental conditions they live in:

  • Thermophiles = live in environments with high temperature.
  • Psychrophiles = live in environments with low temperature.
  • Alkaliphiles = live in environments with high pH level.
  • Acidophiles = live in environments with low pH level.
  • Piezophiles = live in environments with high pressure.
  • Radiophiles = live in environments with high radiation levels.
  • Halophiles = live in environments with high concentrations of salt.
  • Metallophiles = live in environments with high concentrations of dissolved metals.
  • Capnophiles = live in environments with high concentrations of carbon dioxide.
  • Oligotrophs = live in environments with low concentration of nutrients.
  • Xerophiles = live in environments with low concentration of water.
  • Anaerobes = live in environments without oxygen.
  • Hypoliths = live underneath rocks.
  • Endoliths = live inside rocks.

Organisms that fit in more than one of the above are described as polyextremophiles.

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