The Octypus-like Monsters in the Guts of Termites

8 Apr
“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”
— H.P. Lovecraft from The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
Cthulhu-469x616

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! Newswire

[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]

Ok, microorganisms aren’t really monsters, at least no more than your average humanoid politician, but they sure do look creepy (also applicable to politicians).

A pair of newly discovered microbes that lurk the awkward black halls of termite intestines have been duly named by researchers after two fictional monsters from a rather twisted tale of horror by the legendary novelist H.P. Lovecraft.

The single-cell and octypus-like protists, Cthulhu macrofasciculumque and Cthylla microfasciculumque aid the digestion of wood in termites.

Morphology of Cthulhu macrofasciculumque by differential interference contrast light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

Morphology of Cthulhu macrofasciculumque by differential interference contrast light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

“When we first saw them under the microscope they had this unique motion, it looked almost like an octopus swimming,” says UBC researcher Erick James in his research published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Their images reminded James of Cthulhu and Cthylla, which are both depicted by Lovecraft as giant octopus-like monsters that can also fly. James then baptized the newly discovered critters in honor of the fictional entities of doom.

And while biotechnology companies are busy manipulating microbes for fantastically profitable and often dubious ends what can we do but hope that these two protists named after cosmic evil never find their way into the hands of mad scientists with corporate backing.

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