First Animals Found That Live Without Oxygen

loricifera

In the muck of the deep Mediterranean seafloor, scientists have found the first multicellular animals capable of surviving in an entirely oxygen-free environment.Some types of bacteria and other single-celled organisms can live without oxygen, but nothing as complex had been found as these three species of Loricifera, a group of marine-sediment dwellers who inhabit one of Earth’s most extreme and little-known environments.

“The discovery of these life forms opens new perspectives for the study of metazoan life in habitats lacking molecular oxygen,” wrote researchers led by Roberto Danovaro, a marine biologist at Italy’s Polytechnic University of Marche, in a study published April 6 in BMC Biology.
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How Many Species Exist On Earth?

We asked several scientists from various fields what they thought were the greatest mysteries today, and then we added a few that were on our minds, too. This article is one of 15 in LiveScience’s “Greatest Mysteries” series running each weekday.

The prospect of discovering little green men on other planets has long captured our imaginations, but many scientists are just as excited about finding new life forms in our own backyard.Though humans have shared the planet with millions of other creatures for thousands of years, we know surprisingly little about our neighbors—we don’t even know exactly how many flora and fauna call Earth home.

The National Science Foundation’s “Tree of Life” project estimates that there could be anywhere from 5 million to 100 million species on the planet, but science has only identified about 2 million.“We’ve only touched the surface of understanding animal life,” said entomologist Brian Fisher of the California Academy of Sciences. “We’ve discovered just 10 percent of all living things on this planet.”
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