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Europa's surface is marred with huge, curved cracks, called lineae, which may - depending on the thickness of its icy crust - expose the subsurface ocean to sunlight.

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Pictures like the one above (Source: http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/E/Europalife.html) show these cracks in the ice sustaining complex multicellular life forms which photosynthesize the sulight pouring in through the cracks.

Is this reasonable? More specifically; would the cracks remain stable long enough for complex multicellular life, specialized to live in the cracks, to evolve there? They'd potentially have to stay put for hundreds of millions of years, maybe even a billion years, in order for those kind of life forms to arise.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes......and yes $\endgroup$ – user56803 Nov 8 '18 at 7:37
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I'd be a bit more optimistic than Karl. Mind you, I would be extremely surprised if multi-cellular (or even eucaryotic single-cellular) life actually exists on Europa, but as a world-building exercise, it's not unthinkable.

Europa is about 4.5 billion years old, but its surface is renewed between every 20 and 180 million years. Linae have to be even younger than that. To pull a number out of a hat, let's assume that a long-lived lina is about a million years old. Certainly not enough for life to develop there, but enough for an ecosystem to become established from nearby cracks and for evolution to produce new species before the crack closes. Keep in mind that disasters, provided that they are not too frequent and too severe, actually help evolution along. Recall the Cambrian and the Ordivician explosions, and also the fact that homo sapiens underwent at least two near-extinctions.

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