De Profundis

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Three cool pieces of science have been retrieved from the depths.

  • In the L’Atalante basin, one of the Mediterranean sea’s deep hypersaline anoxic basins, anoxic metazoans have been discovered. That means multicellular beings like you, Dear Reader, who live without oxygen. They’re loriciferans, Sw. korsettdjur, each less than a millimetre long. Instead of breathing like you, aided by endosymbiotic mitochondria, these beasties have another kind of power plant inside their cells similar to hydrogenosomes, that is, they’re chemotrophic.

  • In a bog on the high wooded hills of temperate Hanveden near Stockholm, my Mesolithic friends have now lifted sediment drill cores in which a paleobotanist has found seeds of Alpine mouse-ear chickweed, Cerastium alpinum, fjällarv. In a letter, Roger Wikell remarks that when those little flowers bloomed, the hilltop was a island in the Yoldia sea, part of an archipelago far from the mainland, and the retreating edge of the inland ice was not far away. Today, Alpine mouse-ear chickweed is a common feature of the mountain flora in northernmost Sweden around the polar circle. The various names of the plant all speak of frigid mountaintops.
  • From a cave in South Africa, two specimens of a new fossil hominin species.

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Comments

  1. #1 Kevin
    April 14, 2010

    I thought in the midst of all the Shroud of Turin/Atheism/Anal Rape comment frenzy I’d give the alpine mouse-ear chickweed a little lovin’. I love these kinds of stories that you post and, while I don’t have any comment other than that the plant is really cute, they are why I read you religiously.

  2. #2 Martin R
    April 14, 2010

    Aaaw, thank you Kevin, that warms my heart!

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