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'Living magic carpet' found in the ocean sweeps scientists by surprise

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Meet the aptly named "magic carpet worm," a recently discovered deep-sea dweller that has captured the scientific community's attention with its unusual mode of locomotion.


First spotted in 2009 by researchers exploring near Costa Rica, Pectinereis strickrotti wasn't just another worm on the seafloor. It wasn't until a return trip in 2018 that the team was able to collect specimens and formally describe the species.


Living at a depth of over 3,200 feet in perpetual darkness, this unique creature swims by rippling its feathery appendages, resembling a living magic carpet gliding through the water.



Nicknamed for its distinctive movement, Pectinereis strickrotti is around four inches long and boasts an elongated body. Fringing its sides are specialized structures called parapodia, which end in feathery tips equipped with gills. By undulating these appendages in waves, the worm propels itself across the ocean floor, leaving a trail unlike any other deep-sea creature.


Given the perpetual darkness of its habitat, Pectinereis strickrotti relies heavily on senses other than sight. Scientists believe its keen sense of smell and touch are crucial for navigating the inky blackness and finding food. Speaking of food, the worm's diet remains a bit of a mystery. While its sizeable jaws hint at potential predatory or scavenging behavior, further research is needed to shed light on its exact dietary habits.


The discovery of Pectinereis strickrotti not only adds to the growing knowledge of deep-sea biodiversity, but also highlights the unique adaptations creatures develop to thrive in extreme environments. Found specifically near methane seeps, where methane gas bubbles from the ocean floor, the worm contributes to the complex ecosystem existing in these areas. Further exploration around these seeps holds promise for uncovering more fascinating life forms that have adapted to survive in the deep sea's harsh conditions.






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