Diatoms are a type of microscopic algae with incredible shapes and symmetric designs. Diatoms from the genus Corethron (high-magnification view seen here) are concentrated in seas near Antarctica and have long, fragile spines. In high enough concentrations, they can form obstructions within the gills of fish and be damaging to some fish populations.
Image by Dr. John Dolan, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche.
Medically known as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), Stone Man’s Disease is one of the rarest, most incapacitating genetic conditions. True to its common name, bone tissue begins to grow where muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues should be, effectively restricting movement. Individuals with FOP may even grow a second skeleton that will eventually turn them into living statues. Because the heart and other organs are made up of a different kind of muscle, they do not grow bone tissue.
Around the world, there have only been 800 confirmed cases, and there is no known cure or treatment other than painkillers. Those with FOP experience flare-ups randomly or following physical trauma—even something as small as an injection can cause bone to begin growing. But there is cause to remain hopeful. In 2006, the FOP gene was discovered, and clinical trials are currently active.