BBC: The organisms were likely to have been encased in the striking shafts of gypsum at least 10,000 years ago, and possibly up to 50,000 years ago. by Jonathan Amos
'It is another demonstration of the ability of life to adapt and cope in the most hostile of environments.
'"Other people have made longer-term claims for the antiquity of organisms that were still alive, but in this case these organisms are all very extraordinary - they are not very closely related to anything in the known genetic databases," said Dr Penelope Boston.
'The new director of Nasa's Astrobiology Institute in Moffett Field, California, described her findings here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
'"The astrobiological link is obvious in that any extremophile system that we're studying allows us to push the envelope of life further on Earth, and we add it to this atlas of possibilities that we can apply to different planetary settings."'