Mary Elizabeth Miller, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Mary Elizabeth Miller, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Jan. 10, 2011 -- Meet the "pink meanie," a new species of jellyfish discovered by scientists at Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of California, Merced.

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On the surface, this brightly colored jellyfish may not appear to be particularly extraordinary. According to DNA and morphological analysis, however, this marine animal, Drymonema larsoni, is not only a new species of jellyfish, but also a new family.

Found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the pink meanie is the first new scyphozoan family discovered since 1921.

"It's rare that something like this could escape the notice of scientific research for so long," Keith Bayha, a scientist at at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said in a press release.

"That it did is partially due to Drymonema's extreme rarity almost everywhere in the world."

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This new research adds to the growing body of evidence that jellyfish species are more diverse than once believed. Since jellyfish can appear quite similar on the surface, it was once thought that only a handful of jellyfish species spread across the oceans.

Given the degree of variety among jellyfish, the responses of individual species to environmental pressures, such as climate change, is likely to be equally complex.

The pink meanie currently appears on the cover of the journal Biological Bulletin.