Not a life form we might have expected either.
Some archaea propel themselves to incredible speeds by rotating a spiral-shaped filament called an archaellum. Using a powerful cryo-electron microscope, the new study examined this closer than ever before.
The research team – which included the University of Regensburg – focussed on Methanocaldococcus villosus, a species found near underwater volcanoes off Iceland, where water temperatures can reach about 80°C.
“M. villosus swims at a speed of about 500 body lengths per second,” said Dr. Lavinia Gambelli, of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute (LSI).
“Considering that the tiny cell is only about one micrometer in size, this means half a millimeter in one second.
“At first glance, this does not seem much. But in comparison, a cheetah achieves only 20 body lengths per second – so if an M. villosus cell had the size of a cheetah, it would swim at approximately 3,000 kilometers per hour.
“The incredible speed that M. villosus can achieve makes it one of the fastest organisms on the planet.”University of Exeter, “Biologists Investigate Smallest Propeller on Earth – Used by One of the Fastest Organisms on the Planet” at SciTech Daily (February 12, 2022)
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