Science: The Marimos Go Home

The tenderhearted Japanese public was properly indignant. Tokyo's Mainichi Shimbun last week carried a tearjerking headline: MAMMA AND BABY MARIMO FOUND. The pair had been abandoned in a milk bottle on a train from Hokkaido. The Japanese love marimos, as pets and as national treasures, and they hate anybody heartless enough to abuse them.

A marimo is a plant, a kind of alga (Aegagropila sauteri), found in three small patches of water in Lake Akan on the northern island of Hokkaido. Their name means "ball of fur," and fair-sized specimens look like green, fuzzy tennis balls. What makes them so dearly beloved...

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