Deep sea ‘mushroom’ may be new branch of life
A mushroom-shaped sea animal discovered off the Australian coast has defied classification in the tree of life.
A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom.
Such a situation has occurred only a handful of times in the last 100 years.
The organisms, which were originally collected in 1986, are described in the academic journal Plos One.
"Finding something like this is extremely rare, it’s maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years," said co-author Jorgen Olesen from the University of Copenhagen.
He told BBC News: “We think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere; the question is where.”
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. (more)