New Casper Look-a-like Octopod Spooks NOAA Scientists from the Deep

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterThe first operational dive of Okeanos Explorer’s 2016 season got off to a frightful start. At the end of February, NOAA’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer dove 2 1/2 miles underwater to collect geological samples near Hawaii. While surveying the area, scientists were shocked to see a wispy white ghost-like octopod dance into view.

The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod.

According to NOAA, deep-sea octopods are easily separated into two distinct groups:

  • (1) the cirrate, or finned, octopods (also known as “dumbo” octopods), characterized by fins on the sides of their bodies and fingerlike cirri associated with the suckers on their arms
  • (2) incirrate octopods, which lack both fins and cirri and are similar in appearance to common shallow-water Octopus
This ghostlike octopod is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.
This ghostlike octopod is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.

The octopod spotted by the ROV was a member of the second group, the incirrates. What makes this species unusual is that it lacks pigment cells called chromatophores, giving it its spooky appearance, and it isn’t very ‘muscular.’ Casper the wimpy ghost! đŸ‘»

The haunting image below captures the moment the unique cephalopod appeared from the deep. Scientist believe it is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus.

Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.

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New Casper Look-a-like Octopod Spooks NOAA Scientists from the Deep

10 Crazy New Species Discovered in 2015: Dracula Ants, Shape-Shifting Frogs, and Dwarf Dragons

KS Strange ScienceI live in San Francisco and the California Academy of Sciences is one of my favorite places to visit! Who doesn’t love penguins, rainforests, albino alligators, and a rad planetarium all under one roof??

In 2015, researchers at the Academy added 102 new plant and animal species to our family tree. The new species include two frogs, 23 ants, three beetles, eight wasps, 11 spiders, 26 fishes, nine sea slugs, two corals, nine plants, one water bear, and eight new viruses.

Given that we have found less than 10% of the species on our planet, the Academy has inspired me to share ten of my favorite wild new species discovered in 2015. Meet the hog-nosed shrew rat, sparklemuffin spider, and water bear. Happy New Year! 🎉

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New Species: Glowing ‘Ninja Lanternshark’ Lights up the Deep Sea

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterI was taught to not bury the lead, so here goes. This is a ninja lanternshark. That’s right – NINJA + SHARK. This new species of lanternshark is black, stealthy, lives in the deep sea, and oh yeah… it glows.

Adult female Etmopterus benchleyi. Credit: Ocean Science Foundation
Adult female Etmopterus benchleyi. Credit: Ocean Science Foundation

Researchers named the new species Etmopterus benchleyi, after Jaws author Peter Benchley. They are roughly 18 inches long and have patches of photophores on their snout, sides, and belly. These tiny light-omitting organs are what gives them the ability to glow.

But, ninja lanternsharks have less photophores than their cousins, so they don’t glow as bright. They are also distinguished by their dark black color – hence the name.

These masters of the deep were originally discovered in 2010, by the Spanish research vessel Miguel Oliver. They collected eight specimens off the Pacific coast of Central America at depths ranging between 2,700 and 4,700 feet.

With the help of the Pacific Shark Resource Center and the California Academy of Sciences, they determined that the ninja shark was indeed a new species. They published their findings in a journal this week.

New Species: Glowing ‘Ninja Lanternshark’ Lights up the Deep Sea

Hog-Nosed Shrew Rat Seems Like A Harsh Name For This Newly Discovered Mammal

KS Nature

Scientists in Indonesia just discovered a new mammal and they named it the hog-nosed shrew rat. Seems a little harsh, right? But I guess that’s to be expected when you find a rat with a little piggy face. đŸ€đŸ·

Hog-Nose Rat
This new species of rat is called Hyorhinomys stuempkei, or the hog-nosed rat. Credit: Museum Victoria

According to the BBC, the unusual creature was discovered on Sulawesi island by researchers from Australia, Indonesia and the United States. While the hog-nosed rat (Hyorhinomys stuempkei) shares many traits with other rats in the area, there are a few features that are unique to the species. It has huge ears for an animal its size, a long hog-like nose with forward-facing nostrils, and flat nails.

It also has ‘very long urogenital hairs.’ That means it has long pubic hair – a lot of it. I don’t know what you want to do with that information, but its written right there in the report.

Morphologically, the hog-nosed rat is most similar to a group of endemic Sulawesi rats known commonly as “shrew rats.” These are long faced, carnivorous murines, and include the genera Echiothrix, Melasmothrix, Paucidentomys, Sommeromys, and Tateomys.

Discovery of this new genus and species brings known shrew rat diversity on Sulawesi to 6 genera and 8 species. Researchers believe the physical diversity among these animals is ‘remarkable’ considering the small number of species currently known. The findings were published in this month’s Journal of Mammalogy.

Hog-Nosed Shrew Rat Seems Like A Harsh Name For This Newly Discovered Mammal

Top 10 Crazy New Species Found in 2014: A Cartwheeling Spider, Neon Sea-Slug, and the Bird From Hell

KS Strange ScienceScientific American shared a list of the top 10 most interesting new species discovered last year. The fascinating list was published by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry on May 21. Explore the new creatures below!

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New Species of See-Through Frog May Give Kermit a Run for His Money!

KS Nature

You thought Kermit the Frog was the cutest? Look at this little guy’s eye-popping lime-green skin, bulging white eyes, and perfectly shaped black pupils. Kermit may be rich, and he clearly he has better luck with assertive pigs, but this newly discovered glass frog has put the internet into a tizzy with its cuteness.

Brian Kubicki, founder of the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center, discovered the frog in Costa Rica. He decided to name the tiny amphibian after his mother.

The Diane’s Bare-hearted glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium dianae) has a translucent belly and a very distinctive call. It lets out a high pitched whistle like that of an insect, which may help it find a mate.

Frog, please!

Diane’s Bare-hearted glass frog rocks a see-through underbelly, leaving its organs completely visible! The reason for this lack of pigmentation remains a mystery to scientists.

Somehow this Kermit look-a-like managed for fly under the radar and evade researchers – which could be due to its whistle.

“The advertisement call that the males of this species produce are very unique, no other known species of frog has a similar call, and this was indeed one of the traits that we used for the justification of it being a completely new species,” and it “could have played a role in its going undetected prior,” said Kubicki.

This is the first glass frog discovered in Costa Rica since 1973.

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN KUBICKI, COSTA RICAN AMPHIBIAN RESEARCH CENTER
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN KUBICKI, COSTA RICAN AMPHIBIAN RESEARCH CENTER

Glass Frogs – According to National Geographic, ‘Glass frogs, found in Central and South America rain forests, live high in tree canopies near streams and creeks, descending when it’s time to breed. The glass frog’s name originates from its translucent, organ-revealing bellies. Their green coloration, on the other hand, helps the nocturnal frogs stay camouflaged on the undersides of leaves during the day.’

The Diane’s Bare-hearted glass frog is discussed in the February 19 journal Zootaxa.

New Species of See-Through Frog May Give Kermit a Run for His Money!