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Humans discard a trillion single-use plastic bags every year. If you were a wax worm, this statistic would make you drool. The caterpillar loves to eat them.
From Atlas Obscura:
Frederica Bertocchini, a biologist at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology in Spain, noticed some wax worms had managed to eat their way through the plastic bags they were being kept in. While other organisms can take weeks or months to break down even the smallest amount of plastic, the wax worm can get through more—in a far shorter period of time. The researchers let 100 wax worms chow down on a plastic grocery bag, and after just 12 hours they’d eaten about 4 percent of the bag, according to findings published Monday in the journal Current Biology. That may not sound like much, but that’s a vast improvement over fungi, which weren’t able to break down a noticeable amount of polyethylene after six months.
Image of wax worm: skeeze/Pixabay
Fetal lambs survived for weeks in an experimental artificial womb, and scientists hope that the breakthrough could lead to new treatments for premature babies and perhaps the dreamed-of machine utopia where humans are kept mindlessly writhing in translucent plastic sheaths filled with psuedoamniotic liquid.
Physicians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia placed fetal lambs into the transparent bags and connected their umbilical cords to a machine that oxygenated their blood. The lambs own hearts provided the pumping power.
Eight lambs survived for as long as four weeks inside the devices. The gestational age of the animals was equivalent to a human fetus of 22 or 23 weeks, about the earliest a human baby can be born and expected to survive outside the womb. A full-term baby is born at 40 weeks.