Newly Discovered Jellyfish is Very Big and Very Pink

Photo: Ben Raines

Many newly discovered species require a jeweler's loupe to appreciate -- but with this one, you might actually have to take a few steps backwards. Ten years ago, researchers stumbled across an incredible giant pink jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico, with 70-foot-long tentacles capable of ensnaring dozens of victims at once. So remarkable was their discovery that biologists found it quite difficult to believe that the enormous creature was native to these waters. But now, a decade later, researchers have finally confirmed that this very big, very pink jellyfish is in fact a whole new species altogether -- proving yet again that when it comes to documenting life on Earth, we may have only scratched the rosy, gelatinous surface.When the giant jellyfish first turned up in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000, researchers were clearly bemused. Instead of dusting off some Latin taxonomy, they dubbed the enormous animal the 'Pink meanie'. Findings of this epic proportion are so unusual, particularly in the well-researched waters in the Gulf of Mexico, that biologists naturally assumed that the jellyfish had drifted there from somewhere else since similar species do exist in the Mediterranean, though even those are rarely seen.

An artistic rendering of the mysterious Pink meanie.

Lucky for researchers, one such jellyfish was captured near Turkey and shipped over to be compared with the Pink meanie -- and sure enough, there were some inconsistencies suggesting the two were separate species, but the results were less than conclusive. "There were little differences, but when things are gooey, some of the classification work gets really hard," says Sea Lab scientist Keith Bayha who examined the giant jellyfish.

After further comparison with other species and some genetic testing, however, biologists have finally confirmed what seemed so unlikely to be the case -- that the giant jellyfish is in fact a whole new species after all. With that, the Pink meanie earned a new scientific name -- Drymonema larsoni.

"It's rare that something like this could escape the notice of scientific research for so long," Bayha said. "That it did is partially due to Drymonema's extreme rarity almost everywhere in the world."

There's no telling where researchers will discover a new species quite as impressive (or as colorful) as the Pink meanie -- but you can bet biologists are scouring Yellow Submarine for clues.

Via the Mobile Press-Register
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Tags: Animals | Biology | Oceans

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