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Worm with 3 sexes discovered in Mono Lake

Posted on Sunday, 29 September, 2019 | Comment icon 5 comments

Mono Lake is home to some rather unique species. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Vezoy
Scientists have discovered a new microscopic worm species in one of the oldest lakes in North America.
Formed around 760,000 years ago in an endorheic basin, California's Mono Lake is a particularly valuable place for biological study due to its unique chemistry.

The lake's water has an exceptionally high level of alkaline content because the lack of any sort of outlet has resulted in a large accumulation of salts.

This has lead to the development of several unique species that can be found nowhere else on Earth.

This latest discovery, which was made by researchers at the California Institute of Technology, was one of eight new microscopic worm species recently found in the lake.
Unlike other worms, the new species, which has been named Auanema sp., has three sexes - male, female and hermaphrodite (which has partial reproductive organs of both genders).

The species is also unusual in that it gives birth to live young - a unique trait among nematodes.

These unique features are likely to be key to its survival in the extreme environment of the lake.

"Extremophiles can teach us so much about innovative strategies for dealing with stress," said graduate student Pei-Yin Shih. "Our study shows we still have much to learn about how these 1,000-celled animals have mastered survival in extreme environments."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (5)

Tags: Mono Lake, Worm

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by zygote_myles on 27 September, 2019, 10:22
Bummer. I'm all for biodiversity and finding cures for ailments, etc., but this poor little worm should've stayed hidden before man came along to experiment on him. There's nothing 'otherworldly' about them - it's a worm. If the aliens ever come down and start doing the same to us, they'll say, "Silence earthling!! You had your chance! We're only doing to you what you people have been doing to the animal kingdom since day one!!" ZAP!!    
Comment icon #2 Posted by It's Just An Opinion on 30 September, 2019, 10:37
Plot twist: life was seeded here by aliens *inception horns* Or perhaps an ancient humanity that escaped extinction somewhere and landed here a long time ago.
Comment icon #3 Posted by josellama2000 on 1 October, 2019, 2:27
Did nobody pay attention to the 3 sexes? When did hermaphroditism become a sex type?
Comment icon #4 Posted by HSlim on 2 October, 2019, 12:57
Just saying..... isn't saying
Comment icon #5 Posted by godnodog on 19 October, 2019, 20:06
iŽd be happy with just having sex...oh wait...nevermind...whereŽs the delete text button....nooooooo

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