Worm discovered in South African gold mine is deepest-living land animal ever found
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Posted 03 June 2011 - 09:41 AM
A worm that lives deeper than any known animal on Earth has been found in a South African gold mine. The discovery of Halicephalobus mephisto, a new species, 2.2miles below the surface has amazed scientists. It had previously been thought that only single-celled bacteria could survive at such depths.
The worm - a bacteria-feeding nermtode that is just 0.5mm long - was found at various depths of between 0.6miles and 2.2miles. It lives in the 48C (118F) water that seeps between cracks that are deep below the surface. Researchers also found Plectus aquatilis, a previously known roundworm, at the same depths.
Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists said this is the deepest living multicellular organism ever found in 'fracture water'. Lead researcher Dr Tullis Onstott, of Princeton University, said: 'The lack of oxygen, temperature and food is a big dissuader. 'It's like finding Moby Dick in Lake Ontario.' 'It scared the life out of me when I first saw them moving,' he added. 'They look like black little swirly things.'
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