Big Picture Science
January 28, 2019: Rip Van Winkle Worm
Your shower pipes are alive. So are your sinks, books, and floorboards. New studies of our homes are revealing just what species live there – in the thousands, from bacteria to flies to millipedes. Meanwhile, life keeps surprising us by popping up in other unexpected places: the deep biosphere houses the majority of the world’s bacteria and the Arctic tundra has kept worms frozen – but alive – for 40,000 years.
We embrace the multitude of life living on us, in us, and – as it turns out – in every possible ecological niche. Most of it is harmless, some is beneficial, and it’s all testament to the amazing diversity and adaptability of life. In addition, the hardiest organisms suggest where we might find life beyond Earth.
- Rob Dunn – Professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University and at the Natural History Museum at the University of Copenhagen. Author of “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live.”
- Lynn Rothschild – Astrobiologist and synthetic biologist at the NASA Ames Research Center.
- Karen Lloyd – Environmental microbiologist and associate professor at the University of Tennessee.