New Species Of The Bathynomus Has Been Found Off The Gulf of Mexico

A new species of the ancient cousin to the cockroach called the Bathynomus has been found deep underneath the ocean surface in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new report. These giant isopods vaguely look like cockroaches and can live for long periods of time without food just like cockroaches.


Longer than 10 in (26 cm) the animal is 2,500% bigger than average woodlice, Oniscus asellus, that are frequently seen gnawing down deteriorating material in the everyday backyard. The bleached blonde beast is the most recent add-on to a list of 20 deep water crustaceans in the genus Bathynomus that exist in the benthic area which is the deepest and lowest ecological area in the ocean, according to a report by Taylor & Francis.

Bathynomus, in the class Malacostraca, is occasionally referred to as 'The Darth Vader of the Sea' due to their crown sharing a likeness to the 'Star Wars' villain's helmet, as reported by Live Science.

Scientists discovered the new breed from a singular sample taken from the Yucatan Peninsula in 2017 and called it Bathynomus yucatanensis. Bathynomus' features appear much the same and presumed the specimen was an already recognized species. B. giganteus, was one of two earlier discovered types until a genetic breakdown concluded it was a previously undiscovered species thriving in the same waters.

Huang Minh-Chih, an associate professor and head writer for the study says, "The ecological diversity of the Gulf of Mexico may be more complex than [previously] thought," according to Live Science.

Bathynomus - types are classified as isopods, which is a class of crustaceans that incorporates woodlice. Foraging through deep waters, Bathynomus is seldom seen by humans. They vaguely look like cockroaches and just like them, they can live for long periods of time. The giant isopod from the Gulf of Mexico, given the label B. yucatanensis, arrived from a decoyed trap that had been set at approximately 2,000 - 2,600 feet underneath the sea.

The Enoshima Aquarium in Japan maintained the subject under the presumption it was B. giganteus after which Professor Huang acquired it as a specimen for research and examination. Professor Huang studied the specimen's DNA and discovered that it varied from B. giganteus in the categories of two genes - cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) and 16S rRNA. A secondary individual from the same aquarium undergoing the same study generated a match for B. giganteus, thus proposing the first sample was something unique.

Professor Huang says, “I was skeptical... Since Enoshima Aquarium in Japan only purchased B. giganteus, I always thought it was B. giganteus,” Live Science quoted him as saying.

Professor Huang analyzed the morphology of the specimen with two other scientists. They discovered that it contained various genes that were shorter and slimmer than B. giganteus, including a longer antenna and anatomy that closely relates to an upside-down triangle, similar to Darth Vader's mask.

The newly discovered species' beige color distinguishes it from its grayer relatives. Through these structural irregularities and genetic studies, the group surmised it was a newfound species.

The two organisms have an identical number of spines at the tails of their bodies, labeled 'pleotelson spines' which the scientists conclude are an illustration of development and stage of life. The researchers said that this semblance allows the B. yucatanensis to be mistaken and mislabeled for B. giganteus.

Because B. yucatanensis and B. giganteus are nearly the same, it's very possible the two share a common ancestor, the scientists reported in the study.

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