The Pompeii worm is the most heat-tolerant multicellular creature, able to withstand temperatures above 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius). Until the Pompeii worm was discovered in the 1980s near the Galápagos Islands, common belief held that only single-celled organisms could withstand extreme heat. Pompeii worms can grow up to 5 inches (13 cm), and live in small tubes near hydrothermal vents on the seafloor. These vents are located in subduction zones, where one tectonic plate moves away from another, allowing cold seawater to meet hot magma in the resulting open fissures.
More about heat-resistant creatures:
- Other sea creatures that have been found to live near underwater fissures include species of shrimp and mussels. Mussel beds have even been found buried in lava.
- The most heat-resistant land-based creature is the Cataglyphis bicolor, an ant that lives in the Sahara desert. The ant can survive in temperatures over 131 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius).
- Due to rising global temperatures, researchers at the University of Delaware have begun to study farm animals in order to develop breeds that can survive in warmer temperatures.