New Jellyfish Looks Like an Alien Spacecraft
With red and yellow lights seeming to glow inside its bulbous body, a newfound jellyfish looks more otherworldly than deep-sea cnidarian.
With red and yellow lights seeming to glow inside its bulbous body, a newfound jellyfish looks more alien spaceship than deep-sea cnidarian.
Using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), marine scientists dove to the deepest part of the world's oceans, called the Mariana Trench, east of the Mariana Islands near Guam in the western Pacific Ocean; they were exploring the so-called Enigma Seamount (named for the lack of information scientists have on it) when they came upon this surreal-looking creature.
Video captured of the jellyfish reveals a stunning sight: The organism sports two sets of tentacles, long and short, that extend from its pulsating bell. When the long tentacles are extended outward, the jellyfish's bell remains still. That feature, the researchers noted in a statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), suggests the jellyfish is an ambush predator. [Video: Watch the Alien Jellyfish in Action]
Inside the bell, which resembles a flying saucer of sorts, are red canals that seem to connect bright-yellow gonads, according to the scientists. From the looks of the jellyfish, the researchers identified it as belonging to the genus Crossota.
Scientists operating the ROV Deep Discoverer from aboard the research vessel Okeanos Explorer found the jellyfish on April 24 at a depth of 12,140 feet (3,700 meters). This was the fourth dive for the ROV for the first leg of a mission called the 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas, a three-cruise expedition run by NOAA and partners with the goal of understanding the deep-water habitats in and around the Mariana Trench. During the dive, the scientists found other fascinating features of this underwater mountain they call Enigma Seamount.
"Its morphology is quite different from other seamounts in the region, which generally have a flat top with steep, smooth sides radiating out into narrow ridges," they wrote in a daily log of the expedition. "By contrast, this one is more circular in form and the sides are much less smooth."
Throughout the ROV dive, the researchers also noticed "small, rounded balls that looked like they had been constructed from sediment," they wrote. The balls could be a large species of single-celled amoeba or they could be marine sponges, the researchers said. Though deep-sea animals were scarce, the researchers said they did observe some wacky creatures, including "stalked crinoids and primnoid corals, swimming polychaete worms, a cusk eel, Caulophacus sponges, cladhorizid sponges, a Munidopsis squat lobster, a beautiful hydrozoan jellyfish and at least two Nematocarcinus shrimp."
This leg of the expedition is scheduled to end May 11, with the second leg slated for a May 20 departure, with the third leg set to begin June 17.
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The bright-yellow "lights" inside the jellyfish's bell are likely gonads, researchers say.
In honor of New York Fashion Week, the
(WCS) has named its top 10 list of wildlife fashionistas. The list celebrates finned, feathered, and furry fashion icons of the animal kingdom. "If you look at the natural world, it is clear that humans are not the only ones that are conscious about their physical appearance," WCS spokesperson Stephen Sautner told Discovery News. "Wildlife are concerned about how they look, too," he added, "whether it is maintaining their plumage to attract a mate, or using their natural camouflage to hunt or hide." The Victoria crowned pigeon, shown here, has an unforgettable hollow drum-sounding
, which it makes while bowing and showing off its tail feathers.
These two king penguins take on a royal air as they strut proudly down a beach. As Sautner said, "One thing about the world's 17 species of penguins: no matter what, every occasion calls for a tux."
The rainbow bush locust,
, is a member of the "gaudy grasshopper" family. Its bright coloration signifies that it is toxic due, in part, to the grasshopper's feasting on plants that are highly poisonous to others. When disturbed, they can secrete a noxious fluid meant to turn off anyone who would dare to take a taste of them.
Bright coloration in nature often signals poison. That is true for this strawberry poison dart frog, and other poison dart frogs. This one-inch-long frog is also a world-class wrestler, at least among amphibians. For up to 20 minutes, males competing over mates and territories may stand on their hind legs and try to push their opponent to the ground. Once the loser is pinned, he must slink away, leaving the victor to his earned turf.
"The chapeau of this jolly jelly is straight from Lady Gaga's wardrobe," Sautner said. This creature is basically all "hat" too, since jellyfish do not have a head, brain, bones, cartilage or true eyes. What the flower hat jellyfish does have are multicolored tentacles protruding from its translucent, striped bell. Curious people are advised to keep their distance, as the sting of this jellyfish is painful and can leave a bright red rash.
The okapi, a mammal related to giraffes, looks as if it is wearing fashionable leggings 24/7. Sautner explained, "The Okapi's distinct striped legs serve as excellent camouflage in the sun dappled central African jungles where they call home."
The mandrill is a primate that is closely related to baboons. It is found in southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Congo. "The world's most colorful mammal, the male mandrill (left) dazzles in red and blue," Sautner said. "It uses these colors to attract mates and to show dominance."
About the palawan peacock-pheasant, Sautner said, "The male's spectacular plumage is always runway ready." He explained that the males use their colorful feathers to attract mates.
Cuttlefish are always ready to blend in, or to stand out. They can change their body color in an instant for camouflage and to otherwise suit their needs. Their ability to disappear into their environments functions, according to Sautner, like a "virtual cloaking device that allows them to hide from predators or hunt for prey."
Coral snakes have the second most potent venom of any snake. (Many wildlife experts believe that the black mamba holds the infamous number one spot.) Most coral snakes tend to avoid humans, however, and are usually non-confrontational. All coral snakes sport eye-catching patterns and colors. Sautner said that the coral snake is "a killer on the runway; never has danger been so pretty."