Researchers believe that humans can have something to learn from worm resistance.
Mono Lake is three times saltier than the Pacific Ocean – so salty, researchers say, that so far, it has only known two other species: brine shrimp and diving flies.
This is before the worms are found.
The biology of worms can be key to humans
All eight of the worms are unique – some are predators, others are parasites. Others carry germs in the lake. But all of them are extremophiles – organisms that thrive under difficult conditions in which most species cannot survive.
California Lake is just one of several extreme locations where researchers have observed nematodes, from which all eight species of worms belong. They survive on the ocean floor, the Antarctic tundra and even below the earth's surface.
According to the researchers, nematodes may be genetically predisposed to flourish in extreme conditions. Knowing more about the factors that keep them alive in harsh conditions can lead to a breakthrough in human health, researchers say.
"The next innovation in biotechnology may be out in nature," he said. "We must protect and use wildlife responsibly."