Monday, January 25, 2016

Rare finds in the Pacific

"Living fossil" is an overused term (heck, a self-contradictory one) but it's always cool when something turns up alive that we know only from paleontology.  A reef in the Coral Sea, famed for the pivotal battle in World War II when the U.S. first checked Japan;s naval advance, was explored by an international team in 2009.  It's not unusual for the data from an expedition to take a year or two to sift through. In this case it took 7, which is a little long, but it included very interesting stuff including corals never known to exist in the region and some new species of glass sponge along with rare footage of the chambered nautilus, the "living fossil" that launched a hundred newspaper headlines.  The scientists used a ROV that went down 800m.  One noted, "At 800 meters the water is cold and dark, and the environmental conditions really haven't changed much for millions of years."  

In other marine life news, two large, deep-diving, and completely weird sharks, the goblin shark and the frilled shark, went on display at a Japanese aquarium. The former has a ridiculously oversized snout, while the latter looks almost like a thick-bodied mutant eel.  It's very rare to see either in an aquarium, but in Yokahama you can now see both.  

Goblin shark (U. of Florida)

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