Huge Deep Sea Bug—Er, Isopod—Discovered in Gulf of Mexico

Dorsal and ventral sides of a newly discovered giant isopod species.

Scientists recently caught a giant isopod off the coast of Mexico and, after studying its anatomy and DNA, determined That crustacean is an entirely new species.

Deep-sea isopods live on the ocean floor and feed in the ocean Carrion and sea ice that form all dead matter in the ocean. In 2019Isopods from the Gulf of Mexico became famous when a video showed them being eaten dead alligators deliberately drowned by scientists; In 51 days, All the rest Among the reptile carcasses were spines and skulls.

A recent study is described Bathynomus yucatanensis, a giant isopod subspecies that can grow up to 1.64 feet from an oblong head to a rounded tail. It is team work Published In Journal of Natural History.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that species Bathynomus Overall appearance can be strikingly similar, and species within the genus have a long history of misidentification,” the researchers wrote.

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To the naked eye, that misidentification is understandable. Gigantic isopods move like animatronic grains of rice; Only when you flip them On it you can see their many legs and antennae.

A relative of the terrestrial woodlis and the charmingly named Roli-Polis (also known as Pillpugs), the dorsal sides of giant isopods are sheathed in a plated exoskeleton. their Magnitude can be an adaptation their A pattern seen in abyssal habitats, Japanese spider crabs, oarfish and the largest squid species.

THis research team compared the new isopod species to its closest relatives in Gulf to found it B. yucatanensis It is more slender and slightly shorter in length than its cousins, and has more spines extending from its tail.

The newly discovered species is also yellow than its close relatives, which are more transparent white.

GBiological analysis also supported new species designations, as did animal DNA ILike metal Giant isopod B. giant than other species in Gulf B. maxiorum.

Apart from identifying new ones isopod, the researchers also showed that the South China Sea isopod species was historically misidentified as a species that lives in the Coral Sea, far south of Australia.

Research complicates our picture of giant isopods; Although animals are viewed as monoliths, they have Remarkable Diversity in their categories. Not all creepy crawlies are alike—but Most of us Maybe not looking closely enough to see their microcosm the difference

MORE: Here’s one of the scariest things you can catch while fishing

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