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can they die??

  • Subject: [ferns] can they die??
  • From: Wim de Winter wim.dewinter@wur.nl
  • Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 21:57:46 +0200

It's almost a year ago now that I in the Ecuadorean Andes collected a number of quillworts. To my utter surprise I found a small number of termites (white ants) running about the mounted specimens. They have traveled 8000 km, are living 4000m below where they were born (I hope), migrated North by 56 degrees, lived without water, can't have much of a social life, still they're alive and alert. I suppose they don't do much more harm than eating the molds away, but since I don't enjoy the idea of uncontrolled animal life in my herbarium, I had the plants in a 80 centigrades hot oven twice for an hour, and when that didn't help, in the microwave at 800 Watt, up to the point where the paper started smoking. I saw them running around frantically during the radiation attack, but when I had to remove the paper to avoid starting a fire ... ther still lived.

I know they are a very old race, much older than many modern ferns, but I always thought that was metaphorically speaking, the species being that old instead of the individuals. But know doubt is gnawing. Are these creatures actually capable of dying?


---- no animals were harmed in the making of this email except for the cruelties and atrocities that I regret so very much on an individual level but hey what were they doing here in the first place and what's left of them, too many I fear, still has a free opportunity to leave to their homelands provided they present a biometric proof of identy and bring no fluid fluids ----

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