Jonah 4:7
“But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. “

I have avoided doing a Creation Moment about nematode worms. I like to get along without acknowledging their existence! Some of the most grotesque-looking worms are those that belong to the phylum nematoda. However, they are the largest group of animals on the planet, and about a third of them are parasitic, many of them living in mammals, and a large number of these are pathogens. One famous article in 1993 claimed that there are a million species. This exaggerated claim has been toned down, but a figure of 40,000 species is still likely. Most are very small – no more than half an inch – while some are even microscopic. However, some of the parasitic species can grow to lengths of three feet or more in animals’ intestines.

One species – unusual even by the standard of nematodes – has recently been found in Mono Lake in California. This lake has three times the salt concentration of the ocean (the Dead Sea is over nine times ocean concentration) and is alkaline, measuring pH 9. It also has a high concentration of arsenic. This nematode – Auanema – can survive arsenic concentrations 500 times more than human beings can.

Apart from simply marveling at the strange and wondrous creatures God has made, researchers are hoping to learn from the Auanema about how to remove arsenic from badly affected areas, including areas of high pollution. I still don’t like nematodes, but clearly God made them for a purpose.

Prayer: Your world is full of unusual creatures, Lord God, but they are all creatures – You created every one. We thank You for Your great goodness. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: California Institute of Technology. “Otherworldly worms with three sexes discovered in Mono Lake: Eight species of nematode discovered in the lake’s harsh conditions.” ScienceDaily, 26 September 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190926141715.htm>. Image: Mono Lake, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic.

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