Recent Discoveries: Slimy Cave Critters

Updated March 15, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Researchers exploring a mile-deep area of a Mexican cavern called Cueva De Villa Luiz (Cave of the Lighted House), in Tabasco state, discovered strange viscous colonies of single-cell organisms hanging from the cave's limestone walls and ceiling. The unidentified bacteria were dubbed "snot-tites" because they hang in slimy white masses resembling stalactites. ("Snot-tites" was quickly abridged to "snotties.") These bizarre microorganisms-found nowhere else-get most of their energy by oxidizing sulfur from the noxious hydrogen-sulfide fumes in the cave. They excrete drops of acid as strong as battery acid.