A Forest Submerged for 60,000 Years Might Provide New Medicines

A massive underwater forest buried beneath 10 feet of sand sat preserved in the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 60,000 years until Hurricane Ivan uncovered it in 2004. The forest’s bare cypress trees then became subject to shipworms, a wood-eating creature with an insatiable appetite. Researchers are collecting these worms (60 feet under) to study their chemical potential to produce live-saving medicines. They must move quickly, though: when a new habitat is formed, animals rapidly compete for survival, and “territory disputes kick up a lot of chemistry,” JoAnna Klein writes. It’s the researchers’ hope that somewhere hidden underground are the elements for non-toxic drugs designed to treat cancer and ease chronic pain. Read more at The New York Times.