News Stories

Ocean Slime: Reverse Evolution

Modern human life is ruining our oceans. The "rise of slime" is causing the water to become more acidic, killing off many species, some of which may turn out to be essential to slowing down global warming. The runoff from modern life is causing a kind of reverse evolution, allowing ancient species of bacteria to flourish that haven't been seen on earth for billions of years.

The legs of Australian fishermen are becoming covered with scars from brining up slimy weeds which they call "fireweed" in their nets. This fireweed begins growing on the floor of the Pacific ocean every spring and spreads so fast that it can cover an area the size of a football field in an hour. U.S. Scientists are worried that it may spread to U.S. waters soon.

No one could figure out what it was until Australian botanist Judith O'Neil analyzed some of it. But first she had to put it in a drying oven. As it dried, it gave off fumes so strong that everyone had to evacuate the building. The weed was eventually identified as an ancestor of modern bacteria that existed on earth almost 3 BILLION years ago.

In the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling quote Scripps Institution marine biologist Jeremy B.C. Jackson as saying that evolution seems to be going in the reverse direction, returning to the primeval oceans of hundreds of millions of years ago.

This is happening all over the world, as more primitive organisms, which have been on the earth much longer and are therefore more likely to survive, start taking over as more complicated species of marine life are killed off by pollution and the warming up of ocean waters.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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