Scientists Discover First Multicellular Organism That Doesn't Require Oxygen To Survive

February 26, 2020

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Seen here looking suspiciously like the contents of a wadded up Kleenex, the multicellular parasite Henneguya salminicola awaits some salmon to infect and cause "milky flesh" disease. Scientists believe H. salminicola is the first known multicellular animal that doesn't require oxygen to survive, possibly leeching all the energy it needs from its host. God, I know some people like that. They just suck the energy right out of you.

H. salminicola is a fairly common parasite, causing "milky flesh" or "tapioca" disease in salmon, according to a guide published by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "Milky flesh" disease results in unsightly cysts on the salmon's flesh but is generally harmless to humans and the fish itself.


Researchers found that over the course of its evolutionary process, the animal has been able to survive by eliminating so many of the traits associated with multicellular species.

H. salminicola is a fairly common parasite, causing "milky flesh" or "tapioca" disease in salmon, which results in unsightly but harmless cysts on the salmon's flesh.

"They have lost their tissue, their nerve cells, their muscles, everything," Dorothée Huchon, an evolutionary biologist at Israel's Tel Aviv University and study co-author, told Live Science. "And now we find they have lost their ability to breathe."

Honestly, I think my coworker (I'll call her Wendy but her name is Susan) who shares a cubicle wall with me doesn't require oxygen to survive either. The way she talks nonstop I just assumed she doesn't need to breathe. She's like the Micro Machines guy if the Micro Machines guy had three children and a husband who were constantly getting on his last nerve and he needed to always tell somebody about it at length.

Thanks to Thaylor H, who challenged me to a breath-holding competition, which I accepted because I have gills like Kevin Costner in Waterworld.

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