The university of life

Supreme beings

One of the favourite model systems in developmental biology is the nematode worm C. Elegans. But not only is this fascinating animal invaluable in this field of pure science, it also seems that the little creature has other hidden talents. Although the crash of the spaceshuttle Colombia was a human tragedy it was also a victory for all nematodes. The specimens of C. Elegans that were onboard the shuttle not only survived the crash, they also managed to reproduce before, during and after.

Does this mean that worms are better astronauts than humans? It would certainly seem that they can do with less sturdy re-entry vehicles. As a matter of fact any vehicle that is capable of an uncontrolled crash would be suitable. But we cannot let these little creatures surpass us in skill. We have to fight back with genetic engineering of our own species. We propose the following list of improvements:

First of all we have to get rid of all limbs and extruding parts.

Genitalia: We have to move them inside the body and we also need to place both the male and the female reproductive organs in one body. The worms are hermaphrodite after all.

We have to considerably shrink in size.

We have to get rid of most of our brain.

We have to develop an appetite for bacteria and everything else that is small enough to fit in our tiny mouths.

We have to wiggle a lot.

Some people argue that the radiation in space is bad for these little creatures, but recent research in Tsernobil has shown that local worms react in a remarkable way to the increased levels of radiation in the environment. Normally a single worm can reproduce perfectly by itself because they are hermaphrodites, but the worms in Tsernobil have relatively more sex with the otherwise rare males. This ensures a higher exchange of genetic information and possibly a better chance of receiving the genetic information that will enable them to survive in this environment. And all of this occurs without a huge brain.


Professor at the UOL

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