|The giant tubeworm, Riftia pachyptila|
Monika Bright, University of Vienna, Austria.
No sunlight reaches these depths, so, unlike normal ecosystems which depend on sunlight as the source of energy, the entire system depends on bacteria which manufacture nutrients from the chemicals welling up from the vents. The energy source is heat and hydrogen sulphide. Hydrogen sulphide is highly toxic in a normal environment.
Giant tubeworms dominate the landscape around these hydrothermal vents and have a unique symbiotic relationship with bacteria which live within their bodies and provide them with all their nutrients. The adult tube worms have no mouth parts or digestive tract at all as these atrophy once the lava have their population of bacteria in place.
In return for feeding the worms, the bacteria are supplied with a steady stream of nutrients by the tube worms’ feather-like plumes which contain large amounts of haemoglobin to assist with this process. The same organs deal with the waste products.
Now, according to the Bible, God destroyed ‘every living substance’ on earth (Genesis 7:23), save only some chosen specimens of each species which were kept on a boat for some fourteen months complete with all the food they would need. How many of each bacteria and tube worm were on the boat is not clear and depends on whether they were clean (seven) or unclean (two).
Maybe they were both clean or both unclean so the numbers matched. If the tube worms had been clean and the bacteria unclean then the seven worms would have had to make do with two bacteria between them.
Another problem is that they are hermaphrodite, something the author of Genesis doesn't seem to know about, which is a bit strange for an omniscient creator of everything, but I'll let that pass...
Now, the questions are:
- How did Noah collect the Giant Pacific Tube Worms and ensure they only had the specified number of bacteria each?
- How did he maintain the right temperature, pressure and supply of nutrients whilst bringing then to the boat?
- How did he recreate the hydrothermal vent conditions on the boat and maintain the supply of hot, pressurised, highly toxic hydrogen sulphide for over a year?
- How did each tube worm manage to live with just one (or maybe 3.5) bacteria to supply all it's metabolic needs when they normally have millions of them?
- How did Noah return the tube worms back to the eastern Pacific once they got off the boat?