'Worms from Hell'

The World

Halicephalobus mephisto (Courtesy of Princeton U)

We're looking for a province of South Africa for the Geo Quiz this time. It's located near the center of the country and it borders tiny landlocked Lesotho. This is a province that's peppered with gold mines. Some extend a mile down or more. A team of scientists has made a discovery way down there … It's not gold but something potentially more interesting: Nematodes or worms that can live in steamy cracks deep below the surface of the Earth. In fact, scientists previously didn't believe animals could survive that far down. So where in South Africa can you find these extremophiles? The answer is the South African province of Free State. Princeton geo-scientist Tullis Onstott tells anchor Lisa Mullins about his underground safaris to study these "worms from hell."
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