Phi Ta Khon (also spelled Pee Ta Khon (Thai: ผีตาโขน), sometimes known as Ghost Festival), is the most common name for a group of festivals held in Dan Sai, Loei province, Isan, Thailand. The events take place over three days some time between March and July, the dates being selected annually by the town’s mediums.
Scientists now think they have cracked the secret to these microscopic animals’ success: recombining their own genes in new ways and stealing genes from other organisms living nearby, thus keeping genetic diversity alive and well—even without the DNA from a mate.
“This animal has lost its sexuality,” said study co-author Olivier Jaillon of Genoscope, part of the Institut de Génomique du CEA in France.
Bdelloid rotifers are microscopic, multicellular animals that look and move a lot like leeches (“bdelloid” is from the Greek for “leech”). They generally live in freshwater, moist soil, and other damp environments. And these unassuming animals have some pretty cool superpowers: They can withstand long periods of being dried out, as well as massive doses of radiation that would kill pretty much every other living thing.