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Greater than 30 potential latest species discovered living at the underside of the ocean


Robots have discovered 39 potential latest species at the underside of the ocean.

Researchers on the Natural History Museum said the undescribed organisms represent a fraction of the undiscovered species from the deep sea, which scientists are working to know.

A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) allowed the samples – collected from the abyssal plains of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone within the central Pacific – to be delivered to the surface.

This enabled scientists to get a significantly better idea of the organisms living at depths of three,100 to five,100 metres below sea level.

Psychropotes longicauda at 5100 metres depth (DeepCCZ expedition/Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation/NOAA)

Prior to now animals from this area had only been studied in photographs.

Remarkably, 48 of the 55 specimens recovered were different species, and only nine of the 48 were known to science.

Quite a lot of the life at the underside of the ocean is a mystery to scientists, and is undisturbed by humans since it is so hard to succeed in.

Researchers say that while it is understood that tiny millimetre-sized creatures (macrofauna) are extremely biodiverse within the abyss, there has not been quite a lot of details about larger animals (megafauna), and the findings indicate this group may be very diverse.

Dr Guadalupe Bribiesca-Contreras on the Natural History Museum, the lead creator on the study, said: “This research is essential not only as a result of the number of probably latest species discovered, but because these megafauna specimens have previously only been studied from seabed images.

“Without the specimens and the DNA data they hold, we cannot properly discover the animals and understand how many alternative species there are.”

Among the many samples collected were starfish and sea cucumbers, and lots of are marine invertebrates.

The team also collected small animals anchored to the sediment or attached to hard substrate comparable to sea anemones, goose barnacles, sea lilies, sea sponges, and a glass sponge greater than a metre long.

Additionally they found swimming sea cucumbers and a sea urchin galloping on the seabed.

One among the newly discovered deep sea species is Psychropotes longicauda, also referred to as the gummy squirrel.

Merit researcher Dr Adrian Glover, who leads the museum’s Deep Sea Research Group, added: “We all know that small millimetre-sized animals called macrofauna are extremely biodiverse within the abyss.

“Nonetheless, now we have never really had much information on the larger animals we call megafauna, as so few samples have been collected.

“This study is the primary to suggest that diversity can be quite high in these groups as well.”

The findings are published within the journal Zookeys.

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