Los Angeles Times

A study of Monterey Canyon's microbial denizens may offer insights on evolution

Geobiologist Victoria Orphan stands at the stern of the research vessel Western Flyer, watching her colleagues put the last touches on an unusual spread. Among the offerings: a large turkey leg, an alligator head and bowls of gelatinous agar that resemble consomme.

This meal isn't for the ship's crew, though. It's bait.

The entrees are anchored to a plastic grid and pushed overboard so they will sink into the deepest underwater canyon along North America's west coast.

The scientists check the attached camera, which will spy on the creatures that show up to feast - fish, worms, crabs and microbes too.

The microbial denizens of Monterey Canyon are far different from many of their surface-dwelling brethren. They make food out of rocks and

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