Evolved Earthworms To Clean Up Toxic Metals

Earthworms that have evolved to thrive in contaminated soils may be able to help human beings clean up polluted industrial sites.

British scientists believe that earthworms have been forced into rapid evolutionary change in abandoned mines; these "super worms" are able to live in soil that is heavily laced with toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead, zinc and cesium.

"A combination of laboratory, field and synchrotron X-ray experiments have led to the finding that metal-tolerant populations of super earthworms are evolving," said Mark Hodson of the University of Reading.

Since earthworms consume up to thirty times their weight each day, the evolved super worms may be able to perform amazing toxic cleanup feats.

SF fans are unsurprised by this development, having had their consciousnesses expanded by the original Star Trek episode The Devil in the Dark (first aired 09-Mar-1967).

In the course of the episode, the Enterprise crew discovers the existence of the horta, a cheerful race of tunneling creatures who are happy to assist Federation entrepreneurs looking for precious metals. The horta make their own tunnels, eating their way through the planet's interior.


(The song of the Horta - no, really)

Perhaps a closer match would be Larry Niven's mining worms, which eat their way through ore and then leave metal droppings. Which makes me wonder if these earthworms are supposed to absorb the toxic metals into their bodies, in which case you're going to be left with a toxic worm disposal problem. But at least you've got more of the metals in one place than you did before.

If you enjoy this heartwarming tale of Earth's creatures coming to our aid, you'll certainly enjoy this previous story - Tumblin' Tumbleweeds Lend Hand In Depleted Uranium Roundup.

From New 'super worms' may clean up heavy metals; thanks to Moira for the tip.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/16/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.' - Hal Clement, 1950.

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Wound Healing With Wearable Nanogenerators
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to ... erase the other internal-external damage.'

Flying Dragon Robot Transforms In Mid-Air
Terrific prototype video.

Negative Matter Fluid Theorized In New Paper
'Of course, being negative matter, when you push it, it comes toward you..'

Grow Structures Upon Planetfall - Myco-Architecture
'They'll also start pulling in gases and liquids from the local atmosphere...'

MXene Hydrogel Skin For Robots Flexes And Senses
'The plastex swam and whirled like boiling toothpaste...'

EXPLORER, The First Total-Body Scanner
'The object is built up of an infinite series of plane layers, at the focus of the ray...'

UK Police AI To Stop Criminals Before They Strike
'... the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'

Sonitus Audio Interface Positioned Beyond The Noise
'... an instrument having relatively small bit pieces adapted to be gripped between the teeth.'

Volvo's Self-Driving Mining Trucks
'A procession of automatic ore carts was racing over the bleak slag'

Audi Pop.Up Autonomous Electric Flying Car
'The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics...'

Music Not Impossible (MNI) Vibrotactile Wearable Experience
Don't you want to experience the 'feely' effects?

Chinese Face Recognition Mistakes Bus Ad For Jaywalker
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'

A Look Back At Apollo's Emergency Escape Vehicle
'A simple mechanism... it drove the iron ball through space like a ship.'

InMotion Glide 3 Electric Unicycle For The Last Mile
'...gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'

China's Social Credit System - A Facebook-1984 Mashup
'Prestige, face, mana, repute, glory: the Sirenese word is strakh.'

Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.