Devil's Worm

Kingdom Animalia

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Halicephalobus mephisto

Location: South Africa

  • 0.5 mm in length
  • deepest-living terrestrial multicellular organisms on earth
  • discovered at a depth of 1.3 km (8/10 mile) in a South African gold mine
  • survives immense underground pressure and high temperatures (37o C / 98.6 o F)
  • the borehole water where this species lives had not been in contact with the earth’s atmosphere for the last 4,000 to 6,000 years.

The discovery of H. mephisto in Earth’s deep subsurface may have important implications for the discovery of life at similar subterranean depths on other planets.