Scientists discovered so-called "worms from Hell" deep under the surface of the Earth in a habitat that was previously believed uninhabitable. They named these small creatures after the demon Mephistopheles.
These tenacious nematodes also known as roundworms, were named Halicephalobus mephisto. This appears to be taken from Faust's literature where Mephistopheles was first mentioned. Since then, the demon has also been Satan himself in many instances. This nod to the demon is probably part of what earned these creatures the nickname "worms from Hell." The other reason for the name is that they were found so far below the surface of the Earth.
What a desolate sounding habit these worms live in. These complex organisms live at very high temperatures as far as two miles below the surface of the Earth and they reproduce asexually (not much fun). The hearty creatures eat subsurface bacteria. The are actually incredibly small--just two-hundredths of an inch.
Lead researcher Tullis Onscott said of the discovery, "It's kind of like finding Moby Dick in Lake Ontario. It's so volumetrically big. It's 10 billion times the size of the bacteria upon which it feeds."
It is amazing that such a small worm has made such a huge difference in scientific thinking. These little worms from Hell may end up changing everything that science previously believed about life both on Earth and on other planets. Can you believe that? What do you think about their name's demon origins? Is it fitting?