Fuzzy green “glacier mice”


Glacier mice in IcelandRuth Mottram

In 2006, while hiking around the Root Glacier in Alaska to set up scientific instruments, researcher Tim Bartholomaus encountered something unexpected…

Scattered across the glacier were balls of moss. “They’re not attached to anything and they’re just resting there on ice,” he says. “They’re bright green in a world of white.”…

…In the journal Polar Biology, they report that the balls can persist for years and move around in a coordinated, herdlike fashion that the researchers can not yet explain.

“The whole colony of moss balls, this whole grouping, moves at about the same speeds and in the same directions,” Bartholomaus says. “Those speeds and directions can change over the course of weeks.”

Similar “mice” are found on many glaciers around the world. And the whole picture, a complete understanding of how these “herds” move in unison, hasn’t yet been proven. They are being tagged – and tracked. They change direction sometimes. There are individual “mice” scientists have watched for years. RTFA. Stay in touch. The suspense is unbearable!

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