"Because I was afraid of worms, Roxanne! Worms!"

For the first time, scientists have found complex, multi-celled creatures living a mile and more below the planet's surface — raising new possibilities about both the spread of life on Earth and potential subsurface life on other planets and moons.

Nicknamed "worms from hell," the nematodes, or roundworms, were found in several gold mines in South Africa, where researchers have also made breakthrough discoveries about deep subterranean single-cell life.

...The research is likely to trigger scientific challenges and cause some controversy because it places far more complex life in an environment where researchers have generally held it should not, or even cannot, exist.

...[One of the lead researchers, Gaetan Borgonie of the University of Ghent in Belgium] said that while nematodes are known to exist on the deep ocean floor, they have generally not been found more than 10 to 20 feet below the surface of the ground or the ocean bed. However, he saw no reason why they wouldn’t be found further down. The nematodes he ultimately discovered live in extremely hot water coming from boreholes fed by rock fissures and pools.

..."What we found shows that harsh conditions do not necessarily exclude complexity," Borgonie said.
Get a robot with a pickaxe to Mars, STAT! I will not be satisfied until there can be an actual documentary named The Worms from Hell from Mars!

[H/T to @peterdaou.]

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