Researchers aboard a research vessel near Antarctica have discovered a new species of creature with 20 arms.
Scientists from Australia and the United States discovered this scary new underwater species after a series of research expeditions deep in the Southern Ocean.
The scientific expeditions, led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California, San Diego, spanned nearly a decade, from 2008 to 2017, and focused on one specific goal: tracking down the elusive or enigmatic inhabitants. of the sea, commonly called stars. Antarctic feathers.
Due to its unique appearance, the creature was named Promachocrinus fragarius, after the Latin word “fragum”, which means strawberrythanks to its resemblance to the shape of this fruit.
Its body is roughly triangular, with the underside particularly domed and full of circular indentations, probably due to the scars left after the loss of some of its “arms”.
The strange creature got its name from its strawberry-like body. Credit: Gregory Rouse.
It is one of four species new to science, exploring the cryptic diversity of a genus of crinoids, or water lilies, free-swimming, stemless, plant-like invertebrate marine animals. They are related to starfish, sea cucumbers, and other echinoderms.
He Promachocrinus fragarius, a type of feathered star from Antarctica, can have 20 or 10 arms. Although the study published by the scientists does not provide measurements of the animal’s size (describing it only as “large”), it does indicate that its color can range from “purple to dark reddish”.
Antarctic feathered stars live in ocean depths ranging from 19 to 1900 meters, but the antarctic strawberry feather star it is found between 65 and 1,170 meters below the surface, the survey found.
Species unknown to science
Antarctic feathered stars belong to genus Promachocrinus and were once thought to represent a single circum-Antarctic species, Promachocrinus kerguelensis. However, new research has revealed that there are actually several species of these strange little feathered stars that make their way into some of the coldest marine environments in the ocean.
Now the scientists used DNA analysis and they took a closer look at the complex morphology of the specimens collected during the expeditions, managing to uncover a surprising degree of diversity.
Seven additional species have been identified among the feathered stars studied, bringing the total number of the genus from one to eight, and four of them had never been identified before.
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One of them is the antarctic strawberry feather starPromachocrinus fragarius.
Promachocrinus fragarius. Credit: Gregory Rouse.
For the researchers, this discovery has provided valuable information about the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean and expanded the list of unknown marine life, revealing how vast and complex it can be.
The finding was published in the journal Systematics of invertebrates.
Reference: La Vanguardia.
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