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No. 102: Nov-Dec 1995

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From dust unto abyssal mud

We know the Creator made at least one species from dust, but ocean-floor mud has turned out to have more biodiversity. Twenty years ago, biologists put the number of species at about 1 million. Then, they started shaking and gassing rain-forest canopies. The rain of new insect species that fell to the ground made them revise the estimate to 30 million. The latest, long-unappreciated reservoir of undescribed species is mud -- oceanic mud. In particular, we know that the mud in the Rockall Trench off the western coast of Scotland teems with untold species of diminutive nematodes. Of course, nematodes are not as pretty as birds and fish, but they are nevertheless bona fide species of life. Examination of the Rockall mud and that from other seabed sites has convinced the nematode counters that there may be as many as 100 million nematode species on our planet. When other classes of life are added, the figure rises to at least 130 million. (Pearce, Fred; "Rockall Mud Richer than Rainforest," New Scientist, p. 8, September 16, 1995.)

Comments. Lifeless molecules can apparently unite to form an almost infinite array of life forms! The next reservoir of unexplored biodiversity may be the crevicular realm -- all those fluid-filled crevices and channels that extend miles down into the earth's crust. They are full of bacteria and other unrecognized microscopic life forms. As for extraterrestrial habitats, who can even guess?

From Science Frontiers #102 Nov-Dec 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987