Science and Tech
You Shall Not Pass! ...This Strange Science Pic Quiz

Marshall Lemon | 14 Nov 2014 18:00
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So my first thought was that someone made the uncomfortable realization that shoelaces are best attached to shoes, not your feet. Sadly, the truth is a little more terrifying: That's a worm that grows up to three-feet long inside your body. Specifically, the Guinea Worm, known scientifically as "Dracunculus medinensis".

Anytime a "Dracula"-sounding word makes its way into scientific terminology, we assume it's going to be bad news. But it turns out dracunculus actually means "affliction with little dragons" and... Science, you are not making this easier for us.

This is what happens when someone takes a drink from the wrong water hole, specifically one containing water fleas infected with worm larvae. At first, everything seems fine and you go about your business. But a year later, the larvae grows into a little worm, works its way to your foot, then tears its way out through a blister over the course of a few weeks. And since a natural reaction to this is to wash your feet, the worm can dump new eggs into the water and the cycle begins all over again. And the circle of life continues.

Guinea worms are actually incredibly common, to the point that science thinks they've existed for millions of years. They've certainly appeared throughout recorded history, especially in regions suffering from poor water conditions. That said, the United Nations suspects that modern water treatment might just eradicate the guinea worm for good. While it's unusual to actively want a species driven to extinction, I strongly suspect few people are going to speak up in this case.

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