Tiny, one-celled creatures, bacteria have been around for millions of years, even longer than humans. They get nutrients directly from their environment in order to live. Some bacteria humans need in order to get nutrients into the body; these normally live in the intestine. Other bacteria reproduce inside the body and cause different infections - sore throats, ear infections, cavities, and pneumonia, among others. Read on for more fun and interesting facts about bacteria!
- At about 5 million trillion trillion strong, bacteria and their cousins, the archaea, vastly outnumber all other life-forms on earth.
- All of the bacteria in our body collectively weighs about 4 pounds.
- Lined up end to end, they would stretch some 10 billion light-years—literally from here to the edge of the visible universe.
- The average office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet.
- Humans didn’t catch a glimpse of them, though, until 1674, when Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek spotted tiny swimming “animacules” while fiddling with the newly invented microscope.
- There're more bacteria in your mouth than there are people in the world.
- Most bacteria have yet to be identified. In 2003 geneticist J. Craig Venter began trolling the high seas and analyzing the water. On his first trip he fished out more than a million never-before-seen bacterial genes.
- The "smell of rain" is caused by a bacteria called actinomycetes.
- The first artificial life-form will be not a robot but a bacterium. Not content with finding natural bacteria, Venter is leading an effort to build a bacterium from scratch.
- Mobile phones have 18 times more bacteria than toilet handles.
- No escaping them: Your body has 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells.
- Can’t catch them, either. Whipping their tails, E. coli can travel 25 times their own length in 1 second, equivalent to a horse running 135 miles per hour.
- Researchers found 1,458 new species of bacteria in belly buttons.
- Bacteria are adept at developing resistance to antibiotics. Among the deadliest of resistant bacteria is MRSA, which killed 19,000 Americans in 2005 alone.
- Sweat itself is odorless. It's the bacteria on the skin that mingles with it and produces body odor.