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Mephisto, the devil of the deep

The little worm of the deep

 Automatic translation  Automatic translation Updated June 01, 2013

Mephisto, the little worm of 0.5 mm, saw surprisingly, 4 km deep in the Earth's crust. Its discovery dates from 1990, but at such depths, considered the kingdom of unicellular organisms, i.e. bacteria, scientists did not believe that a multicellular organism, can breed. Yet the nematode worm, lives peacefully, without light, with very little oxygen. We already knew that bacteria are present everywhere on the planet for billions of years.
In 2006, Lisa Pratt was discovered near the place where lives Mephisto, a population of bacteria that feeds on hydrogen and sulphate, other bacteria thrive within 3 kilometers of ice in Greenland...
Living conditions at such depths are extremely stringent and despite this, multicellular life, is present.
Without light, with little oxygen and high temperatures, life is surprising scientists.
"It's not often push the limits of the biosphere of a planet," said Gaetan Borgonie specialist nematodes from the University of Ghent.
This new species of nematode worms, reproduces asexually and feeds preferably bacterial colonies (biofilms) present on the walls of the basement rocks.


The researchers also dated bathing water habitat of the nematodes. it left the Earth's surface, there are 3 000 to 12 000 years, demonstrating that Mephisto is well adapted to this environment, already old. The discovery of multicellular life in the deep subsurface of Earth, has important implications for the search for life in our Solar System. Gradually we realize that life is a common phenomenon and that its borders are pushed back each time a little further. Matter of life on Earth and this is certainly elsewhere in the Universe for billions of years. The Universe is the bearer of life and connects us to something material, a cosmic link, an energy that we can not currently imagine is what one might call the fifth force, "force of life".

NB: Halicephalobus mephisto is a species of nematodes of the family of Rhabditidae. It was discovered by the American microbiologist Tullis Onstott of Princeton University and confirmed in 2011 by Gaetan Borgonie University of Ghent in Belgium. This worm was named mephisto, with reference to Mephistopheles, one of seven princes of hell.


Image: In this picture we see the mouth of Mephisto, which allows him to scrape the sides of rocks to feed on biofilm bacteria. Credit: University of Ghent / Gaetan Borgonie

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