Researchers have found a strange Lovecraftian animal in the Pacific


This strange cnidarian had never been observed in the Pacific Ocean, which leads researchers to doubt its identity.

Marine biologists recently had an encounter that left them as perplexed as they were enthusiastic. Aboard a submersible from the Ocean Exploration Trust, an NGO dedicated to exploring the deepest bodies of water on earth, they crossed paths with an exceedingly strange creature in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. .

Every once in a while we come across something we never expected to see”, explains Steve Auscavitch, director of the expedition in an interview with LiveScience. “And often, these are the most striking observations”, he enthuses.

The beast in question seems straight out of a Lovecraftian work of fiction; it takes the form of a long tentacle about two meters long, surmounted by a funny “head” itself dotted with hooked appendages. They even managed to capture some great images of this demogorgon-like beast.

A whole new species of cnidarian?

But the real identity of this discovery, described as “fascinating” by the researchers, remains very mysterious. However, they ruled out the Upside Down track to focus on more concrete elements. According to them, it could be a specimen of Solumbellula monocephalus. This species is part of the cnidarians, and it is therefore a distant cousin of jellyfish, anemones or even corals.

The concern is that these animals have never been spotted in this area; in fact, no one has yet observed Solumbellula monocephalus across the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. This is obviously a huge ecological niche; it is quite possible that this species has gone unnoticed there until now.

But for the researchers, another reading of the situation is possible. Since their presence has only been documented in the Indian and Atlantic oceans so far, one cannot rule out the possibility that they are a whole new species.

The ocean depths, a unique playground for research

This is a very exciting hypothesis for researchers. Indeed, the depths of the oceans are among the least well-known ecosystems. The reasons for this mystery are quite obvious; it is an immensely vast territory and by definition very difficult to access. Currently, only five to ten percent of the volume of the oceans has been explored.

To achieve this, it is necessary to deploy substantial logistics to set up these expeditions, which are often very expensive. When one of them hits the bull’s eye, that’s great news. Indeed, these oceanologists are as badly off as their colleagues who work on extraterrestrial or extremophile organisms, for example; first-hand data remains relatively rare.

Each of these contributions therefore weighs relatively heavily, since the researchers who study these spaces have very little material to put in their mouths compared to the majority of their colleagues. “It really broadens our horizon compared to the living conditions of animals in the deep ocean.”, insists Auscavitch.

Unfortunately, even these superb images do not allow to draw a clear conclusion on the identity of this specimen. To find out if it is indeed Solumbellula monocephalus or a completely new species, further analyzes will be required.

But whatever the conclusion, it will be very interesting for researchers. If it is indeed a new species, then they will be able to document its possible particularities. And if it’s finally about Solumbellula monocephalus, the question will be to know how the same species can occupy niches.

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