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Newly Discovered Deep-Sea Worm Moves Like a Magic Carpet
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, March 12, 2024 @ 07:30 AM (EST)
Source: PopSci


A never-before-seen deep-sea worm species that moves just like a “living magic carpet” has been photographed by scientists. The new species was discovered near an underwater methane seep—where the potent greenhouse gas escapes in the form of bubbles from rocks or sediment on the seafloor—30 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

A blurry image of the species, now named Pectinereis strickrotti by scientists, was actually first obtained during a dive at a depth of 3,280 feet in the HOV Alvin submersible way back in 2009. But the team spotted the species again when they returned to the methane seeps in Alvin in 2018. “They swim slowly, but when he really wanted to move, he started to undulate almost like a living magic carpet,” Alvin’s lead pilot Bruce Strickrott told PopSci.

The team subsequently carefully collected several specimens as well as enough photos and video to formally describe the new species. PopSci says the team has discovered that Pectinereis strickrotti is about four inches long. Its elongated body is flanked by a row of feathery, gill-tipped appendages called parapodia. These help it swim in a wavy pattern reminiscent of a magic carpet. While the worms are blind—there’s no use for eyesight in the pitch dark at more than 3,000 feet—they likely have a keen sense of smell and touch. Pectinereis strickrotti also boasts particularly large jaws, though what these deep-sea worms eat remains a mystery.

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