The scientists have finally classified and named two unique species of a mushroom-shaped animal that have been discovered almost more than two decades ago in the deep see offshore Australia.
The two new species were officially named Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides by the researchers.
These animals were discovered in the 1980s in the deep sea off Australia and since then they remained mystery.
The organisms are so unique in its appearance and behavior that they didn’t find a space in the existing branches of the animal family tree.
Scientists say these unusual animals resemble the floppy chanterelle mushrooms, while feel like dollops of gelatin.
Hence, the ocean-dwellers were grouped under a newly created taxonomic family for their proper classification.
Researchers, however, highlighted that even if the animals were not classified into the existing animal groups but they resembled a few class of species that had gone extinct long time back.
“It is a very interesting surprise and it poses lots and lots of questions.” Simon Conway Morris, a biologist who studies animal evolution at the University of Cambridge, UK, said.
Even if the animals have got names under an animal group but the species still remain a big mystery for the scientists as almost nothing is known about their lifestyle, their reproduction, their feeding habits or whether they attach or float to the seafloor.
According to lead author Jean Just, the scientists knew almost nothing about the animals not even if they are upside down.
Just is a taxonomist at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
About the animals
Both Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides posses flat discs with the width of about 0.5 inches (about 1 centimeter) on their tops. Inside the discs is a fan of digestive tubes which helps in nutrients’ delivery. The fan radiates outward like bicycle tire spokes.
Their center is called “mouth” and it opens into the stalk. This opening is believed to be used for both eating and excreting purposes by the creatures.
The study about the unique organisms was published on Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.