The Ice Worm appears
Welcome to the ice worm. Discovered in 1887 in Alaska, this tiny little creature (it grows up to an inch, and is petty skinny) is an extremophile. It's found on glaciers in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, and to date hasn't been found anywhere else.
Stroller White and a story
But let's start with the young man named Stroller White, who wrangled a job in 1898 with the Klondike Nugget but had to deliver increased sales or face being fired. So Stroller invented a new creature he called ice worms, and started writing about them after a huge storm. He claimed that the ice worms lived in caves in glaciers, and chirped noisly as they basked in the sun.
The chirp of the ice worm is not made with the mouth but from a whistle on its tail. The head end is always too busy to engage in vocal exercise, being constantly at work boring more house room in the solid ice in order that it may have room for growth and expansion.Dictated by E.J.W.
Typewritten by Ann Jones.
Mending of all kinds. Buttons sewed on while you wait.
They want to make you, honoured sir, a bony feed Sourdough.
The same, some say, is one who's seen the Yukon ice go out,
But most profound authorities the definition doubt,
And to the genial notion of this meeting, Major Brown,
A Sourdough is a guy who drinks ... an ice-worm cocktail down.
Yet all is clear as you draw near - for coyley peering out
Are hosts and hosts of tiny worms, each indigo of snout.
And as no nourishment they find, to keep themselves alive
They masticate each other's tails, till just the Tough survive.
These little worms, which can recognize light and dark even though they are eyeless, look like pieces of dark thread on the ice. Snacking on snow algae and pollen carried by the wind, the ice worms congregate in colonies numbering a few hundred thousand to an astounding twenty million each, with some colonies covering up to thirty acres.
Then deeply in a drawer he sought, and there he found a jar,
The which with due and proper pride he put upon the bar;
And in it, wreathed in queasy rings, or rolled into a ball,
A score of grey and greasy things, were drowned in alcohol.
Their bellies were a bilious blue, their eyes a bulbous red;
Their back were grey, and gross were they, and hideous of head.
But with a gesture of disgust the Major shook his head.
"You can't bluff me. You'll never drink that gastly thing," he said.
"You'll see all right," said Deacon White, and held his cocktail high,
Till its ice-worm seemed to wiggle, and to wink a wicked eye.
It must be done . . . He swallowed hard . . . The brute was at his throat.
He choked. . . he gulped . . . Thank God! at last he'd got the horror down.
And ere next night his story was the talk of Dawson Town,
But gone and reft of glory was the wrathful Major Brown;
For that ice-worm (so they told him) of such formidable size
Was - a stick of stained spaghetti with two red ink spots for eyes.