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'Dragon Booger' Emerges From Lost Lagoon

It's the first time bryozoans have been seen in Vancouver
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2017 9:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pectinatella magnifica, a water-dwelling blob, has long confounded scientists trying simply to categorize them. The brown-green snotty lumps are called bryozoans, and sometimes "moss animals," "dragon boogers," and "ectoprocta," which means, "anus outside," reports Popular Science. The blobs, which are actually whole colonies of tiny organisms, look most like polyps or coral, but they're probably more closely related to mollusks. And now, they've been unearthed in a biofiltration pond near Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon in Vancouver, reports the Vancouver Courier. (See the newspaper's video on the blobs here.) “It’s kind of like three-day-old Jello—a bit firm but gelatinous,” says a member of the park's Ecology Society.

The discovery is notable because bryozoan clumps have typically been found only east of the Mississippi. Scientists are currently debating whether they are invasive and whether a warming climate is helping them spread, reports National Geographic. They filter nutrients from algae, so there's a chance they harmfully alter freshwater ecology—and they can clog pipes. On the flip side, their presence suggests good water quality, reports Gizmodo. They do require water that is warmer than 60 degrees, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a 2012 report suggesting that climate change is helping them pop up all over the Pacific Northwest. Others wonder if we just hadn't noticed them before. (Check out this psychedelic slinky.)

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