Extremophile Worms Found in Colorado Cave

Main report: "Extremophile" worms thrive in Steamboat cave where humans would die
(Denver Post)
Other Reporting: NBC 9 News (video report)
Scientific Paper: Zootaxa   
New Taxa: limnodrilus sulphurensis
Categories: Invertebrates | New Species
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As a research associate with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s zoology department, Dave Steinmann estimates he finds around 10 new species per year in Colorado.  But it took more than 1,000 hours of multiple independent lab tests, study for these “blood-red worms” to become official this year.  The hydrogen sulfide gas that fills the cave required a rescue team to wait outside while Steinmann explored. His discovery is significant because these “extremophile” worms — which are red, thin as pencil-lead and an inch long — show how life might have developed in other inhospitable environments like Mars or Jupiter. They also hint at potential applications in medicine, fitness and other fields.

Blood-red cave worms (limnodrilus sulphurensis) mass in Sulphur Cave near Steamboat Springs. Their discovery and certification as a new species has researchers excited about their potential biological applications. (Provided by Norman R. Thompson)

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