Brief mention: glacier mice 8/30/12

In the NYT Science Times on 8/28, a delightful piece by Matt Kaplan, “On Glaciers, Balls of Dust and Moss Make a Cozy Home”:

Life has a habit of turning up in the most unlikely of places. Geysers, desert cliffs, even heaps of dung are environments that at least a few creatures call home.

Now balls of moss on glaciers are joining this strange list. The clumps, known as glacier mice, have been found to contain miniature ecosystems. And even in freezing temperatures, scientists found, the inhabitants manage to thrive.

… Inside the mice, the researchers found Collembola (six-legged insectlike creatures commonly known as springtails), tardigrades (tiny eight-legged moisture-loving creatures that are often called water bears) and simple nematode worms.

And contrary to what the team expected, these animals were not just getting by inside the glacier mice; with up to 73 springtails, 200 tardigrades and 1,000 nematodes being found in just a single mouse, they were thriving.

Like dust bunnies, but with lots of life in them. (I suspect that dust bunnies harbor more life than we might have expected.)

Dust bunny in OED draft additions March 2006:

dust bunny n. colloq. (chiefly N. Amer.) a ball of dust and fluff, of a type often found behind or beneath furniture. [cites 1952, 2001]

Both glacier mouse and dust bunny are resembloid (non-subsective) N + N compounds, but with somewhat different semantic relationships between N1 and N2: location for glacier mouse and composition for dust bunny.

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