Archaea bacteria are also known as "extremophiles," thanks to their ability to survive in extreme environments such as very hot and very cold climates.

Archaea also populate the areas surrounding deep-sea vents, underwater volcanoes that form when the earth's crust opens along the ocean floor's spreading centers. The deep-sea vents have the hottest temperatures at which any living organism has been found. As of 2001, the current record for heat tolerance belonged to Pyrolobus fumarii, which can grow in water at a maximum temperature of 113 °C, well above boiling. At the opposite extreme, Archaea are among the few organisms found in the frigid waters of the Antarctic.

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