From the Mighty to the Small, Cthulhu’s Name Claims Them All 26-31

Cthulhu02Not one to be left out of the action, fans of the mythic tyrant Cthulhu have named teeny tiny new creatures after their larger than life progenitor. Should we be afraid? Or just interested? CryptoVille investigates!

H.P. Lovecraft gave us the monstrous legend of Cthulhu, loved by generations of his readers. Now scientists have given us teeny tiny creatures, new to science, that they named after the great beast himself and his daughter. (Artwork top right by unknown artist of Cthulhu.)

Researchers at the University of British Colombia (UBC) discovered two tiny creatures living in the guts of termites that they call protists. Each one is a mere single cell in size (10 to 20 microns) and the scientists believe they help the termites digest the wood that they eat.

Cthulu01The symbionts were named Cthulhu macrofasciculumque and Cthylla microfasciculumque. (See photo left, courtesy of UBC.)

In an article for UBC Researcher Erick James said, “When we first saw them under the microscope they had this unique motion, it looked almost like an octopus swimming.” Hence the association with Cthulhu.

The scientists say these tiny creatures still manage to have a big impact on their host, an impact worthy of their namesakes. (Artwork below right of Cthylla by unknown artist.)

CthyllaJames added, “The huge diversity of microbial organisms is a completely untapped resource. Studying protists can tell us about the evolution of organisms. Some protists cause disease, but others live in symbiotic relationships, like these flagellates in the intestines of termites.”

Do you think Cthulhu and Cthylla would be pleased?


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