The rat’s tale

The Rat’s Tale

Let me introduce myself. I’m the newest member of the Micrognome team. But only in one sense of the word. I’ve been there, sniffing around, for a long time. If the others knew, they’d realise that I’ve been running the R&D lab for a long time. Directing experiments. Making observations on how humans behave when they think they’re onto something new in this field.

Take new species: how long have these bacteria been on the planet. Aeons, of course. But, no. These humans are cute. Every discovery has to get a new name. Time was when those names were given after famous bacteriologists. But that level of self-congratulation is old hat. So we’ve moved onto a somewhat stuffy description of when, where and how the bacterium came into the light of a bright field microscope.

Our most recent example is Cruoricaptor ignavus, a germ they found in a poorly patient’s blood stream. Bacteria from the blood – cruor  + captor. Get it? Maybe it’s not a very memorable or pronounceable bacterial name. But you never know. It might take off one day. And then predictive text won’t get its wires crossed when it tries to replace ignavus with ingneous. Hardly the same meaning.

So what? the busy general physician might ask. The significance of this particular bacterium is that it is not just a new species. It is a new Genus. That’s a much bigger deal. One the Micrognome’s  lab seems to think needs a bit of celebration. Particularly after a series of ‘new’ species earlier in the year.

We’re getting distracted. As you can see from my features, I’m a handsome cross between Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus with my big eyes and ears, angled snout, chubby body and short tail. Very much at home in the lab, hence my name; rtRAT (NOT “Arty”, even if that’s what it sounds like.). So don’t go blaming the Black Death on me.


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