Scientists have found a brand new species of crown jellyfish that appears like a scarlet alien saucer within the sunless “midnight zone” of California’s Monterey Bay.
The newly described species, Atolla reynoldsi, measures about 5 inches (13 centimeters) in diameter and may have anyplace from 26 to 39 tentacles, researchers with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Analysis Institute (MBARI) mentioned in an announcement. Like the ten different identified species of the Atolla genus, A. reynoldsi sports activities a deep groove operating round its central bell, giving its physique the looks of a domed head sporting a frilly purple crown.
Although it is not a lot wider than a greenback invoice, A. reynoldsi appears to be the most important of the identified species of Atolla jellies, the researchers mentioned. Nonetheless, what actually units this jelly other than its cousins is what’s lacking; not like all different at present identified species of crown jellyfish, A. reynoldsi lacks a single elongate tentacle — one lengthy, skinny tentacle that trails behind its physique, measuring as much as six occasions the diameter of the jelly’s bell.
In keeping with the researchers, a crown jelly makes use of this prolonged appendage to assist snag prey, which may embrace crustaceans, siphonophores (rope-like gelatinous animals) and different small creatures that go by way of the ocean’s midnight zone — the deep, sunless area of the ocean that extends from 3,300 to 13,100 ft (1,000 to 4,000 m) under the water’s floor.
Whereas analyzing hundreds of hours of footage taken within the Monterey Bay’s midnight zone between April 2006 and June 2021, MBARI researchers sometimes noticed crown jellies that lacked the signature trailing tentacle. The staff suspected that that they had found three new crown jelly species within the Bay, however sightings had been too uncommon to show it.
Now, in a brand new research printed March 16 within the journal Animals, the researchers have conclusively recognized one of many unknown jellies as the brand new species A. reynoldsi. The staff studied 10 specimens of the mysterious crown jelly, together with each bodily specimens and sightings from archival footage, to conclude that the species is “molecularly and morphologically distinct” from all different identified species within the genus — that’s, it seems to be completely different each bodily and genetically from its cousins.
A. reynoldsi has to date solely been noticed within the Monterey Bay, swimming at depths of three,323 to 10,463 ft (1,013 to three,189 m).
“These exceptional new jellies underscore how a lot we nonetheless need to be taught concerning the deep sea,” lead research creator George Matsumoto, a senior training and analysis specialist at MBARI, mentioned within the assertion. “On nearly each dive into the depths of Monterey Bay, we be taught one thing new.”
MBARI researchers have recognized greater than 225 new species over the previous 34 years, in keeping with the institute. The 2 different crown jelly species noticed with out trailing tentacles might nicely find yourself being categorized as new Atolla species sooner or later, the researchers added — nonetheless, extra observations are nonetheless required.
Initially printed on Dwell Science.