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Microbe Mat the Size of Greece Discovered In the Sea

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the davy-jones's-blanket dept.

Earth 135

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A mat of microbes the size of Greece has been discovered on the sea floor off the Pacific coast of South America. 'These tiny creatures can join together to create some of the largest masses of life on the planet... A single liter of seawater, once thought to contain about 100,000 microbes, can actually hold more than one billion microorganisms...'"

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135 comments

Plenty of (little) fish in the sea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31889974)

News at nine.

Re:Plenty of (little) fish in the sea (4, Funny)

Magic5Ball (188725) | about 4 years ago | (#31890240)

More importantly there are plenty of unexplored function libraries in the 1 billion marine microbial species waiting to activate.

Re:Plenty of (little) fish in the sea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890406)

LOL!

Too bad only molecular biologists will get this one.

Hurry! (2, Funny)

arcite (661011) | about 4 years ago | (#31893394)

Yang is building a planetbuster, we much achieve transcendence with planet before its too late! Move a foil ship to that microbe hex stat!

Re:Hurry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31893510)

provost zakharov need two more turns 4 the win ...

first psot (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31889986)

At the bottom of the ocean is a good metaphor for Greece's economy right now!

Re:first psot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31892370)

I like the symmetry. Greece, the founders and final resting place of Civilization.

Re:first psot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31892706)

At the bottom of the ocean is a good metaphor for Greece's economy right now!

Yeah, or the American debt. Good thing there's an infinite abyss there, huh?

donkeypenis (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31889992)

nt

Microbe Mat the Size of Greece Discovered In Sea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890030)

And 80% as hairy which is the most impressive part.

Microbe mat (5, Funny)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | about 4 years ago | (#31890036)

It's not a bug, it's a fixture!

We come in pieces (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890180)

I, for one, would like to be the first to welcome our new world Underlords.

Re:We come in pieces (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31890418)

Was there any doubt that microbes own our planet and merely tolerate us? (heck, more bacterial DNA in your body than human one...)

Ray of Science (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890308)

What's this? A science story from NewYorkCountyLawyer? I had you pigeonholed as a "copyrights' infringement" kind-of-guy. Perhaps people are not entire one-dimensional after all.
My god - do you know what this means? There exists the possibility that the Slashdot groupthink has unfairly prejudiced itself against against high-profile posters.
What have we done? Of the humanity!
We might have also unfairly treated Roland Piquepaille!

Actually on balance I feel that we're probably fairly safe there.

Re:Ray of Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890648)

(Responding to my own post)
NewYorkCountyLawyer / NewYorkCountryLawyer

Played nicely. I didn't even notice it and it was the whole point of my post!

I still stand by my final comment. :-)

Re:Ray of Science (5, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 4 years ago | (#31890818)

What's this? A science story from NewYorkCountyLawyer?.....

Actually there is a bit of evidence, not publicly available, which would support your theory that I may have been a little bit out of my element with this story:

This was the first of my 232 stories that was actually improved by the Slashdot editor.

Subconscious influence (5, Funny)

zogger (617870) | about 4 years ago | (#31891602)

You probably picked this article to submit because of your daily dealings with other types of slime molds.

Re:Subconscious influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31891990)

That comparison was mean. Apologize to the giant pond scum.

Don't worry... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31890054)

The structure that looks surprisingly like a gigantic neural network is not, repeat not, the repository of a vast and vengeful consciousness of the murky deeps.

Please carry on with your regularly scheduled consumption.

Re:Don't worry... (2, Funny)

blankinthefill (665181) | about 4 years ago | (#31890106)

No, but it would be prefect cover for the REAL vast and vengeful consciousness of the murky deeps! I fear, my brethren, that we have found the storied Leviathan. The end is nigh, for soon is will shed its covering layer, and destroy us all! Lament and weep, for the end of days has come! (Well, not ME, actually, since it's aquatic, and I live in Colorado... but all the rest of you sea side slobs are doooooomed!)

Re:Don't worry... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#31890454)

Don't be so secure there mountain man!

What makes you think it can't travel in fresh water and follow the rivers and streams to you?! Or even just pick up and slime it's way up the Rockies devouring every living creature in its path?

No one will be safe!

Re:Don't worry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890490)

It can just hitch a ride on evaporating water molecules and rain slime on you from the clouds for that matter....

Re:Don't worry... (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | about 4 years ago | (#31890496)

I'm not worried. If this is truly a "vast and vengeful consciousness" we can easily take it down. Quick, someone call Exxon.

Re:Don't worry... (1)

dow (7718) | about 4 years ago | (#31890650)

I think we should nuke it just to see what happens. This wouldn't be with the intention of killing it, but rather helping it to evolve faster... and just in case it is intelligent, let it know who's boss.

Re:Don't worry... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 years ago | (#31891244)

This wouldn't be with the intention of killing it, but rather helping it to evolve faster

But water kills it.

(Ok, what book am I referring to?)

Re:Don't worry... (1)

aquila.solo (1231830) | about 4 years ago | (#31892132)

But water kills it.
(Ok, what book am I referring to?)

The Wizard of Oz?

Re:Don't worry... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 years ago | (#31892224)

A big mass of rapidly-evolving alien "cells" was not in TWoO.

Re:Don't worry... (1)

aquila.solo (1231830) | about 4 years ago | (#31892292)

Yeah, I didn't figure that's what you were referencing; The Wizard of Oz isn't exactly on the /. bestseller list. I was just trying to make a weak attempt at humor/cross-reference with the "water kills it" line. Care to educate me, or is Google going to be my friend?

Re:Don't worry... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 years ago | (#31892368)

Google is always your friend. I'll give you a hint, though: Michael Chricton.

Also, I made a mistake: it's a movie.

Re:Don't worry... (1)

Nf1nk (443791) | about 4 years ago | (#31892574)

Can't remember the name, but that movie was abysmal... It either made no sense at all, or was a waste of half a day

Re:Don't worry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31891720)

The end is nigh, for soon is will shed its covering layer, and destroy us all!

NO you misunderstand, this will save us. Gaia is responding to the excess carbon by growing bacterial nets which will absorb it.

Basically this means the Global Warming is over.

How can we trust you? (4, Funny)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 4 years ago | (#31890112)

Liar. Your user name implies you may be the avatar of this very consciousness!

Re:How can we trust you? (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31890390)

No, not that one. It'd be beneath my proud eukaryotic dignity to be housed in a gooey mass of prokaryotic pond scum, however large.

You, er... might want to stay away from eastern Oregon [wikipedia.org], though.

Re:How can we trust you? (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31890398)

I think I would actually prefer that to, say, hairy man posing as highschool girls on the internet.

Re:Don't worry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890540)

I don't see anything bad happening with my plan to drop internet enabled monitoring devices into the neural net... errr, I mean microbial mat.

Re:Don't worry... (1)

gront (594175) | about 4 years ago | (#31893226)

Don't call Cthulhu a microbial mat... just upsets his dreams. They do have the "size of Greece" thing right.

The real question is (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890090)

can I eat it?

the size of Greece? (5, Funny)

jothar hillpeople (1789504) | about 4 years ago | (#31890116)

does this mean we will need to bail them out as well?

Re:the size of Greece? (4, Funny)

besalope (1186101) | about 4 years ago | (#31890318)

does this mean we will need to bail them out as well?

That might be rough, I hear they have a lot of sunken assets.

Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (0)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 4 years ago | (#31890150)

Eternity lies ahead of us, and behind
Have you drunk your fill?

It really would be amazing if such an organism gained sentience...

Re:Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890220)

Alpha Centauri was such a nice game ...

Re:Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (1)

d1r3lnd (1743112) | about 4 years ago | (#31890346)

Was? It still is! I Transcended earlier this morning, as a matter of fact.

Re:Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 4 years ago | (#31890376)

i would agree, the quotes alone are golden. And it didnt have the "RTS" like special resources that showed up in the later civ games.

i wonder tho, how many actually use the vehicle design system?

Re:Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | about 4 years ago | (#31890776)

While the requiring of specific resources to build certain things is new, they (to some extent) have been there since at least civ 2 in the form of bonuses for production.

Re:Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 4 years ago | (#31890844)

there is quite a difference between a general bonus to production, and having to hunt out specific kinds of resources to get anywhere. Still, i guess its more accurate, in that it forces trade and military activity rather then just find a corner of the map and wall up.

Re:Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (1)

laron (102608) | about 4 years ago | (#31890884)

i would agree, the quotes alone are golden.
No doubt about that :)

Re:Begin secret project: Voice of Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31892410)

i wonder tho, how many actually use the vehicle design system?

I know of one for sure. Psy armored formers are a great thing...

Makes me think of Lem's Solaris (1)

xmark (177899) | about 4 years ago | (#31891872)

I don't recall that he addressed how the inscrutable sentient ocean actually came to be.

In any case, Solaris gets my vote as one of the three greatest science fiction novels ever.

Oblig (0, Redundant)

Redlazer (786403) | about 4 years ago | (#31890168)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those!

But does it run Linux?

Re:Oblig (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890560)

But does it run Linux?

No, it runs Google Wave.

Re:Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31892378)

But does it run Linux?

No, it runs Google Wave.

That's been ported to the Cell processor?

Re:Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31892750)

It did, but some lying cheat bastards removed the ability to install the OS.

Comparison to Greece? (5, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | about 4 years ago | (#31890212)

has anyone seen a map of Greece with all it's crazy islands and jagged coasts? How can you compare the size of anything to that country

Next time, compare vs something with a somewhat reasonable shape.

like Saskatchewan damnit!

Re:Comparison to Greece? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890396)

Q:How many Rhode Islands Units are to 1 Greece Unit?

A: 131990/4002 km^2 = 32.981 Rhode Islands

Q:How many Football Fields are to 1 Greece Unit?

A: 131990000000/5351.2 m^2 = 24665495.590 Footbal Fields (American Football)

Q:How many Barns http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barn_(unit) [wikipedia.org] to 1 Greece Unit?

A: 131990000000/(1x10^-28) = 1.3199x10^39 Barns

Re:Comparison to Greece? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | about 4 years ago | (#31890506)

like Saskatchewan damnit!

Your province [comeexplorecanada.com] resembles a skirt. [wordpress.com]

But you may be right. It should be easier to measure size on a 2D landscape.

Re:Comparison to Greece? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890594)

A mat of microbes the size of Greece

I don't care what country you use for comparison. I'm scared by microbes the size of any country!

Re:Comparison to Greece? (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 4 years ago | (#31890642)

A mat of microbes the size of Greece

I don't care what country you use for comparison. I'm scared by microbes the size of any country!

Don't be scared. Microbes are your friend.

Re:Comparison to Greece? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890854)

Are you saying you, for one, welcome our country-sized microbe overlords?

Re:Comparison to Greece? (4, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 4 years ago | (#31890936)

Are you saying you, for one, welcome our country-sized microbe overlords?

No. Of course not. What do you take me for?

I'm saying these are the good microbes, who are our friends, and will help to protect us from the bad microbes who wish to be colonize, and ultimately devour, us.

Your imagination is running riot. I wish you would calm down, and rely upon science, as I do.

Re:Comparison to Greece? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890960)

Microbes are his only friend...

Re:Comparison to Greece? (1)

Logaan (1769744) | about 4 years ago | (#31892818)

like Saskatchewan damnit!

Then the article would have to be titled:

"Microbe Mat ~1/5th the Size of Saskatchewan Discovered In the Sea"

Doesn't quite have that same ring to it.

I wonder (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890232)

Size of Greece eh? I bet it's more intelligent than the average Greek.

Re:I wonder (1)

aquila.solo (1231830) | about 4 years ago | (#31892212)

I don't make any claims to know about average Greek intelligence, but I'd imagine having Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Hippocrates, Socrates, Euclid, Pythagoras, Archimedes, etc., etc., in the sample would give them a pretty good head start.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890348)

A single liter of seawater, once thought to contain about 100,000 microbes, can actually hold more than one billion microorganisms..

Well, considering a tablespoon of human semen contains million of sperm, one billion microorganisms in a liter of fluid doesn't seem to unreasonable.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31891018)

Well, considering a tablespoon of human semen contains million of sperm, one billion microorganisms in a liter of fluid doesn't seem to unreasonable.

Two questions:

1. Who in the hell whacks off into spoons
2. Who has the patience to sit and count to 1 million?

Economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890362)

I'm guessing a mat of microbes the size of Greece probably has a better economy than a piece of land the size of Greece.

Standard Unit Of Hugeness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890366)

In these parts, the standard Unit Of Hugeness is "N times the size of Wales"....

Name? (1, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | about 4 years ago | (#31890428)

Considering that is related to (the size of) Greece and that it could grow more, maybe in the future could be called Gaia?

Re:Name? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 4 years ago | (#31891118)

Considering that is related to (the size of) Greece and that it could grow more, maybe in the future could be called Gaia?

I think 'Cthulu' might be more appropriate.

Test of time (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | about 4 years ago | (#31890438)

Just goes to show what can happen when you give something 4-5 billion years to debug.

Re:Test of time (2, Interesting)

thms (1339227) | about 4 years ago | (#31890628)

Greg Egan had a nice extrapolation (spoilers) in his Wang's Carpets short (later expanded in the novel Diaspora) that on top of such a large biomass, or rather inside it, a completely virtual world is computed. I.e. the computation substrate is not silicon but biomass following certain rules. This computed universe did not interact with the outside world (and that world lacking predators, it didn't have to) but just created a virtual self contained world.

did I miss something? (1)

eallanjr (1069538) | about 4 years ago | (#31890516)

Now I know I didn't read TFA, but how does the RIAA/MPAA fit into this story? Are they suing the microbes for copyright infringement as well?? Heartless bastards.

Re:did I miss something? (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 4 years ago | (#31890526)

Now I know I didn't read TFA, but how does the RIAA/MPAA fit into this story? Are they suing the microbes for copyright infringement as well?? Heartless bastards.

:)

Perhaps as previously unidentified microorganisms that live without oxygen, in the muck?

Re:did I miss something? (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 4 years ago | (#31890544)

Now I know I didn't read TFA, but how does the RIAA/MPAA fit into this story?

Don't pigeonhole me man. After all I did go to Bronx High School of Science.

OK Own Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31890732)

Who thought it read Microsoft map the size of greece discovered under the sea on the first read.

I need to get out more!

Huh, seems they survived the Cambrian after all... (5, Interesting)

Colin Douglas Howell (670559) | about 4 years ago | (#31890900)

Interesting. Such giant microbial mats used to be the dominant biological communities in the Precambrian, often forming structures called stromatolites, but most of them were believed to have met their demise during the Cambrian, when lots of new large multicellular critters could literally munch or burrow their way through them. Stromatolites are still present today in a few places, generally in environments too harsh for multicellular organisms to live in, like Shark Bay in Western Australia. But this discovery would indicate that large microbial mat communities proved more evolutionarily durable than previously thought.

Maybe this is how fossil fuels are actually made (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#31891258)

A long term gradient from this to the oxygen free microbes [slashdot.org] we've recently heard about and you've got a life cycle that creates oil. Now if that's the case we should capture some samples, diddle some DNA to accellerate the process and create an algae sequence that takes garbage and produces gasoline - or experiences runaway growth and turns the entire planet into green slime.

Hm... the plot's going to need some work but for a rough sketch that will do for a start.

RIAA connection? (1)

fyoder (857358) | about 4 years ago | (#31891038)

This is a bit of an odd submission from NewYorkCountryLawyer. Is the microbial mat a client? What sort of music is it accused of filesharing? That might give us some insight into its nature.

It would be really cool if it was the Leviathan. I'd like to see it go after the RIAA labels, towering over terrified Sony execs as they ran for their lives.

Microbes the size of Greece (1)

oji-sama (1151023) | about 4 years ago | (#31892756)

My god those are big microbes. (Pity the title seems to take an alternative view on the issue)

QUICK SOMEONE CALL CHRIS MOORE... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31893214)

...He might have been onto something!
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