Referring to the forests of giant mushrooms and plesiosaurs found in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Professor Dartnell reminds us that the ground beneath us is indeed a home to such wide biological diversity that it is hard for us to imagine.
Tullis Onstott is noted by Dartnell to be one of the most prominent explorers of these subterranean mysteries. His book Deep Life takes the reader on adventures taking place two miles underground in South African gold mines, at an ancient seabed beneath the desert landscape of the American Southwest or below the frozen wastelands of the Arctic tundra, Dartnell explains.
All of the locations are inspired by Onstott’s career as a “subterranaut” and address some important biological questions such as: how far down could life survive? Might cells be living off radiation released by the surrounding rock? Could life itself have originated in the deep subsurface?
Professor Dartnell highlights parts of the book as beautifully written, as if they are descriptions in a novel. However, he concludes that the book consists mainly of detailed and dry chronological scientific information, which might be helpful to students and historians but would not grab the general reader’s attention.