Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's a Squid... It's a Worm.. It's a Squid Worm?

Have you ever seen a creature so disgusting or bizarre that you were in shock? This is what happened to researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. In a November 2010 expedition to the deep, marine scientists thought they had seen a worm eating a squid, or a squid eating a worm. This sight turned out to be neither of these things, but in fact a brand new species called the squid worm from the genus Teuthidodrilus. The squid worm is living proof that there are a massive array of undiscovered and incredibly strange organisms living in the largely unexplored depths of the ocean.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/11/101124-squid-worm-new-species-science-teuthidodrilus-biology/

The squid worm feeds on plankton, uses bristles to swim, and has pseudo-arms on its head which are primarily used for sensory function. The squid worm can grow to lengths of up to 9 cm. The squid worm resides in the depths of the ocean and has been found as deep as 6,200 meters in the Celebes Sea. Even the marine scientists responsible for the discovery were very surprised by the appearance of the squid worm.

Perhaps the most perplexing thing about this organism is the fact that it is so common. This worm appears to be very abundant at the depths. This speaks volumes about our knowledge of the creatures that reside in deep marine ecosystems. With recent findings of creatures that are common and incredibly large creatures that would seem impossible to miss such as the giant squid, our knowledge of what exists on our own planet seems limited.

The hadal zone of the ocean, named after Hades in Greek mythology, begins at about 6,000 meters - well within the range of the squid worm - and continues to the point where life no longer exists in the depths of the sediments. Currently, there is enough unexplored space in the hadal zone to equal roughly the size of Australia. This seems absurd considering our exploration of the moon and the heights of the earth such as Mount Everest.

The ocean should not remain an enigma for very much longer. Advances in technology allows for scientists and unmanned vessels to explore the depths much more readily. James Cameron recently completed a voyage to the depths of the Marianas Trench, the deepest solo dive on record, and there is a current expedition exploring the Kermadec Trench which is one of the deepest and coldest trenches in the world. The outlook for future exploration is bright. The depths are predicted to contain diversity matching that of the coral reefs. One thing is certain, in the near future we will have a much better knowledge of the deep.

References:

Howard, Jacqueline. "Researchers Take On Kermadec Trench Dive To Find Unknown Deep-Sea Creatures." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 13 Apr. 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/13/kermadec-trench-dive_n_5140725.html>.
Sample, Ian. "'Squid Worm' Emerges from the Deep." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 24 Nov. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/nov/24/squid-worm>.
Than, Ker. "James Cameron Completes Record-Breaking Mariana Trench Dive." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 09 Mar. 0040. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120325-james-cameron-mariana-trench-challenger-deepest-returns-science-sub/>.
"To Hades and Back: Exploring the Deepest Part of the Ocean | Expeditions, Scientific American Blog Network." Scientific American Global RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/expeditions/2014/04/17/to-hades-and-back-exploring-the-deepest-part-of-the-ocean/>.

1 comment:

  1. With how advanced we our in technology and sciences it is crazy to think this species (and many more) are just recently discovered. One question I have about the "squid worm" is, is it related to the mollusks or the annelids? The segmentation resembles more of a polychaete than a mollusk.

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