A treasure trove of new species discovered at the bottom of the ocean

Dylan Bettencourt

Scientists may have found 30 new species of creatures at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

A research team from the United Kingdom Natural History Museum used a remote operated vehicle to collect data from the floor bed of the central Pacific Ocean.

Creatures in this remote area of the ocean had previously only been seen and studied through photographs and the study found that there is a large diversity of organisms.

The creatures were found in the dark abyss at more than 4,800 metres under the surface, with 48 of the 55 examined being different to what was p[reviously believed.

The animals discovered include segmented worms, invertebrates from the same family as centipedes, marine animals from the same family as jellyfish, and different types of coral.

The results may have major implications for deep-sea mining as humans continue to explore the potential to mine minerals from the seabed.

However any plans to extract minerals from the seabed have been prevented due to possible disturbance of the creatures.

“The results show that we cannot understand just how many specimens we have not discovered yet,” said the study’s lead author Dr Guadalupe Bribiesca-Contreras.

“This research is important not only due to the number of potentially new species discovered but because these megafauna specimens have previously only been studied from seabed images.”

She said without the specimens and the DNA data they hold they cannot properly identify the animals and understand how many different species there are.

Natural History Museum deep-sea research group leader Dr Adrian Glover said they never had much information on specimens this deep into the ocean.

“We know that millimetre-sized animals called macrofauna are extremely biodiverse in the abyss,” he said.

He said they have never really had much information on the larger animals called megafauna as so few samples have been collected.

“This study is the first to suggest that diversity may be very high in these groups as well,” he said.

Image source: @TheGuardian

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