Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2008's New Creatures

Wired lists the top 10 organisms discovered in 2008. The ultra-small bacteria Chryseobacterium greenlandensis was found alive and well despite being frozen in 2 mile deep ice for 120,000 years. That's pretty old bacteria. But bacteria at lower levels of the glacier are thought to have survived even longer. For perspective, mitochondrial DNA studies have traced the common female ancestor of all living human beings to 160,000 years ago in Africa. Y chromosome studies have put the common male ancestor in Africa 60,000 years ago. This bacteria has survived in ice twice as long as the present human male line has existed.

(image credit: scanning electron microscope image of Chryseobacterium greenlandensis, Jennifer Loveland-Curtze, Penn State)