Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weird New Animal From Antarctica's Deep Seas

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) program, a global collaboration among thousands of researchers who aim to make a detailed record of all ocean life by 2010.

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