Weird New Animals From Antarctica's Deep Seas

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May 16, 2007—Hundreds of new species of deep-sea animals, such as the baby isopod Ceratoserolis above, have been discovered during expeditions in the waters off Antarctica. Ceratoserolis is just one of 585 new species of isopod—a type of marine crustacean related to wood lice—found during the Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity Project, or ANDEEP, trips between 2002 and 2005. Researchers aboard the German research vessel Polarstern in the Weddell Sea also brought up heart-shaped sea urchins, carnivorous sponges, and giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates.

We were astonished by the enormous biodiversity we found in many groups of species, said Angelika Brandt, a marine biologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany. The project has made a major contribution to the Census of Marine Life (CoML) programme, a global collaboration among thousands of researchers who aim to make a detailed record of all ocean life by 2010.

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This glass sponge was one of 76 sponge species found during expeditions in the seas off Antarctica between 2002 and 2005. Seventeen species of sponges had never been found before and 37 were not known to live in those waters.
The richness of the deep-sea fauna found during the trips challenged a belief that the ocean depths do not nurture a diversity of animals.
In other oceans the number of species drops the deeper you go,said study co-author Katrin Linse, a marine biologist at the British Antarctic Survey.
But in the Southern Ocean we found the opposite trend.
The Southern Ocean includes the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans surrounding Antarctica.

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This vibrant animal, called Ctenocidaris, was captured by biologists during explorations of the deep seas around Antarctica. The Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity Project, or ANDEEP, catalogued more than 700 new species during expeditions between 2002 and 2005. The ANDEEP cruises were also the first to study the DNA of deep-sea species in the oceans off Antarctica. The great advantage in the Antarctic is that the water column is cold all the way up, said Angelika Brandt, a marine biologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany, so we can bring material up on deck and extract DNA before it becomes damaged by heat.

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This unusually shaped organism, a male Munna, was snagged during a deep-sea expedition in the waters around Antarctica between 2002 and 2005. Munna and more than 700 new species discovered during the research efforts provide some of the first insights into the biodiversity of the oceans around Antarctica, long an enigma to scientists.

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This shrimp like creature, called Cylindrarcturus, was caught floating through the deep waters near Antarctica. Most of the more-than-700 species snapped up by scientists were very small—less than 0.2 inches (about 5 millimeters)—and nearly all, like Cylindrarcturus are ghostly white.

It’s so deep and dark down there, you don’t need any color, said Katrin Linse, a marine biologist at the British Antarctic Survey.

(source)

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