Monday 6 June 2011

Deepest-living land creature discovered

Deepest-living land animal found
By Jennifer Carpenter Science reporter, BBC News
Worms have been found living at depths in the Earth where it was previously thought animals could not survive.Discovered in South African mines, the roundworms can survive in the stifling 48C (118F) water that seeps between cracks 1.3km beneath the Earth's crust.The find has surprised scientists who, until now, believed only single-celled bacteria thrived at these depths.Writing in the journal Nature, the team says this is the deepest-living "multi-cellular" organism known to science.The researchers found two species of worm. One is a new species to science, which the scientists have named Halicephalobus mephisto after Faust's Lord of the Underworld.The other is a previously known roundworm known as Plectus aquatilis.

Ends: Dr Borgonie believes that worms already have some of the "attributes necessary" to survive at these great depths. So it wasn't a surprise to him that the first multicellular organism to be found in the deep subsurface of the Earth was a worm. The authors of the study expect to find other multicellular animals far beneath our planet's surface, and are preparing to descend again to search for others.

Finds like this set me off thinking I wonder what else is surviving where it shouldn’t be ? Always  exciting when new species are discovered.

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