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X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
X-Ray Mag #62 - Sep 2014
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New life form found in the ocean?

Organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom.
A mushroom-shaped sea animal has defied classification in the tree of life.
Two new species of 'multicellular, non-bilaterian, mesogleal animals' were collected at 400 and 1000 metres on the Australian continental slope off eastern Bass Strait and Tasmania during a cruise in 1986

Finding something like this is extremely rare, it's maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years- We think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere, the question is where.

—Jørgen Olesen University of Copenhagen

The specimens in question were not recognised in the field, but were extracted from bulk samples in the laboratory during sorting.

The authors of the article note several similarities with the bizarre and enigmatic soft-bodied life forms that lived between 635 and 540 million years ago - the span of Earth history known as the Ediacaran Period.

What are they!?
These organisms, too, have proven difficult to categorise and some researchers have even suggested they were failed experiments in multi-cellular life.

The new organisms are multicellular but mostly non-symmetrical, with a dense layer of gelatinous material between the outer skin cell and inner stomach cell layers.

The researchers did find some similarities to other animal groupings, such as the Cnidaria - the phylum that comprises corals and jellyfish - and the Ctenophora, which includes the marine organisms known as comb jellies. But the new organisms did not fulfil all the criteria required for inclusion in either of those categories.

Dr Olesen said the new animals could either be a very early branch on the tree of life, or be intermediate between two different animal phyla.

Further reading ►