Usually I try to pick items with broader philosophical or theological implications, or something with a practical application, in the hopes that everyone can find something they can connect with. But there are days when you just need to stare directly into the mind-melting bizarreness of the world and go ‘huh.’
Meet Oxytricha trifallax. Where you and I have 23 chromosomes (in duplicate), these guys have 16,000. Then they have a second copy of their genome that’s scrambled in some way; the article describes it as encrypted but I don’t really understand what that would mean in this context. That scrambled copy is for trading, so that new gene variations can be obtained during stressful times when new solutions are needed. At a high level, it’s not too different from what any other organism does, but the details of the implementation are very far removed from anything else.
If our exploratory observations are still finding novelties like this, what other marvels await? Anyone else find this sort of thing fascinating? How do you respond to examples of life’s boundless diversity?