(DiverWire) The ocean is full of undiscovered marine life, and even in the past ten years unclassified species have turned up by the boatload. It’s easy to think that humans rule the world – we’ve split the atom, cured diseases, domesticated beasts, and even traveled to the moon, so how is it possible that there are still uncharted swaths of ocean teeming with undocumented life?
If there’s a better explanation for why many divers won’t leave land without an underwater camera, this would be it.
5.) The Yeti Crab
Discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific, the yeti crab (or kiwa hirsuita) lives 7,000 feet deep, somehow thriving and flourishing in ocean thermal vents that can heat up to up over 800 degree Fahrenheit. Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, alongside other researchers, found the first example of the yeti crab just south of Easter Island.
The yeti crab is distinguished by its fur-like coat of long blond setae bristles.
4.) Gorgon Head Starfish
A cousin of the starfish, the Gorgon Head Starfish was discovered last year by researchers from Scotland’s University of Aberdeen, along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The Gorgon Head Starfish lives off shrimp and plankton, and can use its unique alien-like tendrils for locomotion.
3.) Carolina Hammerhead Shark
Similar to a hammerhead shark in appearance, the Carolina Hammerhead (sphyrna gilbert) is distinct both structurally and genetically. One such difference is the spine – the Carolina Hammerhead shark has 10 less vertebrae in its spine, and has other small differences as well. It was found in 2013, off the coast of South Carolina, though it sometimes spawns in estuaries along the shore.
2.) Scaly-Foot Gastropod
Discovered in the last decade, the Scaly-foot gastropod (crysomallon squamiferum, or sometimes “armored snail”) is another deep-sea creature living near scalding thermal vents. They dwell around 7,940 feet deep, and have shells and scales composed of iron and mineral. The animal uses iron sulfides to construct these plates, which also contain iron pyrite and greigite – making it one of the only creatures to absorb and process iron sulfides like that.
1.) Unclassified Giant Tasmanian Jellyfish
Just last month, a previously undiscovered species of jellyfish washed up on the shore of Tasmania and was discovered by a child searching for shells on the beach. The jellyfish was enormous, five feet in diameter, and appeared to be related to the “lion’s mane” jellyfish often found in the area. Still, researchers at the local university have discovered that it is distinct from its cousins, and may need to have it’s own classification. They still haven’t come up with a name for it, but how it managed to suddenly become discovered near such a populated area is an amazing display of how vast the ocean is.
Jellyfish in particular are becoming a huge wealth of information for scientists, and new species will only speed up that search.
Dr. Jamie Seymour from the James Cook University in Cairns is leading a study to discover if jellyfish venon, specifically from the box jellyfish, can be used for medicinal purposes. The toxin from the box jellyfish is incredibly effective at killing bacteria, in some cases removing bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. He also believes there may be compounds in the toxin that, when isolated, can work as effective pain killers or even help with heart disease and dysfunction.
Jellyfish also may be the key to stopping or even reversing the aging process. Though not a new species, the turritopsis jellyfish is discovered to be functionally immortal, as far as aging goes. Every one of their cells work like stem cells, and can transdifferentiate into whatever cells are needed.
This means that they can cycle backwards through their aging process, essentially regenerating whenever they need. In theory, they can do this infinitely.