A bug discovered deep in a goldmine and nicknamed "the bold traveller" has got astrobiologists buzzing with excitement. Its unique ability to live in complete isolation of any other living species suggests it could be the key to life on other planets.
Not only does this radically increase the odds for finding other life on the planets and moons of the Solar System, and elsewhere, but the solitary ecosystem of this little critter, which goes by the name of Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, is powered by radioactivity. Oh, and it's named after a Jules Verne novel.
They're no sand worms, and writing rip-roaring space operas about little colonies of bacteria that uses the radioactive decay of uranium to extract carbon and nitrogen from rocks isn't going to be easy, but the idea that life is tough and finds a niche definitely chimes with SF's defiant romance with the universe.