Scientists discover terrifying new species of sea creature with 20 arms
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"The Antarctic strawberry feather star". It might not make much sense, but doesn't it sound adorable?
The name sounds like something a quirky celebrity might name their newborn, or the title of a children's book about some adventurers who set off to find the mystical object.
The new species was discovered by researchers working in the ocean near Antarctica, and looks a bit like a jellyfish, only without the main round bit. Basically, it's all tentacles, some of which are feathery, while others are bumpy.
As if that wasn't enough, the smaller tentacle-like strings attached to the base of the creature also feature tiny claws, which allow it to hold on to the bottom of the sea floor.
The creature can measure up to eight inches long, and uses its longer 'arms' to help with its mobility as it scuttles through the ocean, according to marine biology professor Greg Rouse.
Rouse, from the University of California, San Diego, co-authored a paper on the new species with researchers Emily McLaughlin and Nerid Wilson, and published their findings in Invertebrate Systematics last month.
Offering some insight into the thought process behind the name of 'Antarctic strawberry feather star', the researchers shared images with some of the smaller tentacles, known as 'cirri', removed from the base of the creature.
"We've taken away a bunch of the cirri so you can see the parts that they're attached to, and that's what looks like a strawberry," Rouse told Insider.
'Antarctic strawberry feather star' is actually the simple, easier to pronounce name for the new species, which has been formally dubbed Promachocrinus fragarius.
It belongs to the Crinoidea class of species, which also includes starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers.
The researchers made the discovery by dragging a net along the Southern Ocean in a bid to find more species of the Antarctic feather star group star, of which there was previously only one - the Promachocrinus kerguelensis.
The mission proved extremely successful, resulting in the identification of four new species that can fall under the Antarctic feather star group.
The Antarctic strawberry feather star was found between 215 feet to about 3,840 feet below the surface of the ocean, and stood out in particular to the researchers due to the number of 'arms' it has.
Rouse pointed out that the majority of feather stars have just 10 arms, but the discovery means that the researchers could add eight species under the Antarctic feather star category, including the new four species as well as some previously discovered animals that were initially believed to be their own species.
"So we went from one species with 20 arms to now eight species — six with 20 arms and two with 10 arms under the name Promachocrinus," Rouse explained.
I wonder what else lies at the bottom of the ocean floor?