Mushroom-Shaped Critter in Deep Sea Vexes Biologists
Animal found in 1986, only now being scientifically described
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2014 8:37 AM CDT
The newly described animal species Dendrogramma enigmatica   (Photo courtesy of Jorgen Olesen)

(Newser) – From afar, the deep-sea animal species Dendrogramma enigmatica resembles a chanterelle mushroom. Upon closer inspection, though, the creatures seem to belong to the animal, not fungi, kingdom. And yet they cannot be classified under any existing animal group, perhaps necessitating an entire rewriting of the early tree of life, not to mention how animals, neurosystems, and tissues evolved, reports National Geographic. Dendrogramma are less than an inch long and sport a flat disc that houses a forked digestive canal and a stalk with a hole at the end where food both enters and, ahem, exits.

Unfortunately, the animals, which were found in 1986 more than 3,000 feet deep in waters near Tasmania, were preserved in formaldehyde and ethanol, making it difficult if not impossible to run genetic tests and determine their closest relatives. And no subsequent dives have been able to find the elusive deep-sea dwellers. The scientists who describe the animal in Plos One are asking scientists the world over to look for more. "We published this paper in part as a cry for help," one researcher tells the BBC. "There might be somebody out there who can help place it." (In other deep-sea news, have you seen what an octopus does to guard her eggs?)

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
Sep 6, 2014 10:45 AM CDT
How wondrous are the works of His hands.
Sep 4, 2014 12:34 PM CDT
Ah, reporters. There is no "tree of life." That would imply a single predetermined path. There were lots of attempts at organization by first chemicals and then cells. Once things gets rolling, then a "tree" might form from a base successful form--and these guys were apparently as successful as this form got. And the only scientists that were "vexed' were the ones that knew that THEY had not discovered the organisms that will make another scientist's career. The tree bit shows how Christian influenced even the most agnostic thinker can be because of the culture one grows up through while learning.
Sep 4, 2014 9:55 AM CDT
they took the last two known to exist and killed them. great sterwardship... NOT