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Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Real Dungeon Hazards: Snotties and Slime
Ooozes and slimes aren’t just the the subject of Gygaxian dungeoneering fancy. Interestingly, it appears they have some basis in subterranean fact. Ready for an introduction to the world of snotties, red goo, and green slime?
"Snotties" look like small stalactites, but have the texture of mucus and drip battery acid. They’re actually colonies extremophile archaebacteria that thrive in intense levels of atmospheric hydrogen sulfide produced by volcanism. They’ve only been found in a few places including Cueva de Villa Luz, southern Mexico, and Sulphur Cave in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Other unusual things have been uncovered in Cueva de Villa Luz by the self-styled SLIME (Subsurface Life In Mineral Environments) team. “Red goo” is an acidic (pH 3.9-2.5) breakdown product of clay, which also makes a home for bacteria. “Green slime” which may be decaying algal elements.
Sulphur Cave also sports the red worms which live off sulfur--the only such higher organism ever discovered residing on land.