June 25, 2024

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Alien-like species first appeared in the darkest depths of the ocean

Alien-like species first appeared in the darkest depths of the ocean

Below a certain depth, the ocean becomes extremely hostile to humanity.

A group of newly discovered species lurking at the bottom of the sea shows just how strange this strange world is.

In his Clarion-Clipperton district The Pacific OceanBetween Mexico and Hawaii, marine scientists have discovered animals never before seen by humanity: creatures living very different lives in the perpetual darkness of the abyssal surface zone.

These areas are the least explored on Earth. It is estimated that science has described only one in ten animal species that live heresays marine ecologist Thomas Dahlgren of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

This is one of the few cases in which researchers can co-discover new species and ecosystems in the same way they did in the 18th century. It’s very exciting».

Below a certain depth, the ocean becomes extremely hostile to humanity. The weight of the water creates enormous pressures – sunlight cannot penetrate deep into the water, resulting in permanent darkness – and temperatures are low, only a few degrees above freezing. But where humans can’t go, our technology can.

The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) is a large area extending over approximately 6 million square kilometres. This is an area of ​​the ocean floor rich in polymineral nodules, but it is also home to a unique and diverse array of marine life, most of which is still unknown to science. The recent expedition, part of an international effort to map and understand these seafloor ecosystems, revealed how much remains to be discovered.

The newly discovered species shows a number of remarkable adaptations to its harsh environment. Some have bioluminescent features, allowing them to move around and hunt in pitch-black waters. Others have unusual physical adaptations, such as long bodies, small eyes, or even no eyes, to compensate with increased other senses to detect food and avoid predators.

These findings are not only scientifically exciting, but are also vital to conservation efforts. Understanding the biodiversity and ecological importance of this area is essential to creating effective conservation strategies and ensuring that the impacts of human activities are minimized.

Marine ecologist Thomas Dahlgren emphasizes the importance of these discoveries. “Exploring these levels is like stepping into a time machine, offering a glimpse into the beginnings of life on Earth.“, He says. “Every new species we discover adds a piece to the puzzle of our planet’s history and evolution».

The technology enabling these discoveries includes remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), equipped with high-definition cameras and advanced sensors. These devices can withstand harsh conditions in the deep sea, take pictures and collect samples that scientists analyze to identify new species.