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What animal could just wipe out the entire human race if they were fed up with us?
Nematodes. Here’s some fun facts about our worm overlords!
- There are 57 billion nematodes per person on Earth, making them 80% of all animals here. They have an incredible reproductive rate – the intestinal roundworm can lay 200 000 eggs in a day.
- Nematodes are very hardy and are found in diverse and hostile environments, from desserts to Antarctica. 8 species of Nematodes have been found to live in Mono Lake, which contains deadly levels of arsenic. When tested, those nematodes were found to be capable of tolerating 500x the lethal dose of arsenic for humans.
- Oh, many of them are parasitic, including 60 types that prey on humans. That’s actually relatively low, considering there are 25 000 parasitic nematodes for vertebrates.
- You know how the tardigrade gets credit for being one of the few organisms capable of surviving in outer space? Well, the nematode species C.elegans is the only species who has survived a virtually unprotected atmospheric re-entry to Earth during the 2003 Space Columbia disaster.
- Most nematodes are small, but not all. Placentonema gigantissima can span up to 8-9m in length and lives in the placenta of sperm whales.
Hope you enjoy this bit of trivia! Let’s end with a quote by nematologist Nathan Cobb.
“If all the matter in the universe except nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable… we should find mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes and oceans represented by a film of nematodes”