Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Microstory 62: Kerguelen

The Kerguelen Islands are an island chain located in the southern Indian Ocean. They are considered to be one of the most isolated places in the world. Despite sometimes being referred to as “Desolation Islands” there is no lack of plants and animals. One such of these animals has managed to remain outside of catalogs and most other records. The Great Kerguelen Coleobeast is a majestic creature, twice as massive as an elephant, that resembles an anglerfish that has formed hind legs in the back and these sort of fin things in the front. There is only one Coleobeast in the world. It is functionally immortal, capable of a process called transdifferentiation, much like a certain type of jellyfish. If the Coleobeast feels threatened, or becomes sick, it will revert itself to the pupal stage of development. The most interesting aspect of this animal is its mucus, which contains natural antibacterial properties. The animal was discovered in 1772, but went into hiding shortly thereafter. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that its mucus was extracted and repurposed as your average, everyday hand sanitizer.

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