Health Editor’s Note: There has to be some advantage to being able to live without oxygen, but I do not think humans will be able to do this any time soon…Carol
This Animal Doesn’t Need Oxygen to Survive
When it comes time to build an animal, a few crucial ingredients come to mind: carbon-containing molecules, to build a body; water, to slosh nutrients in and waste out; and oxygen, to power each cell’s busy work. Across millennia, from bumblebees to blue whales, this recipe has held true—until now.
For the first time, researchers have identified an animal that gets by without breathing oxygen: a parasite relative of jellyfish that appears to acquire its energy from another, still mysterious, source. Unlike all other known multicellular organisms, this lollipop-shaped creature, called Henneguya salminicola, lacks mitochondria, subcellular structures that turn the vital gas into units of energy that power a dizzying array of essential functions.
“There are plenty [of animals] that can go for extended periods without [oxygen], but nothing [else] that can get through the whole life cycle,” Nick Lane, a biologist at University College London who wasn’t involved in the study, tells Michael Le Page at New Scientist.
To call the finding a surprise would be an understatement…