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Mysterious Mushroom-Shaped Creatures Found in Deep Ocean

Update Date: Sep 03, 2014 03:01 PM EDT
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Mysterious mushroom-shaped organisms have been discovered deep in the ocean.

Danish scientist from the University of Copenhagen documented their findings of two new species of the marine creatures in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers in the latest study collected various organisms at 400 and 1,000 meters deep in the Australian continental slope more than two decades ago. However, they have only just recently isolated two kinds of mushroom-shaped organisms that didn't fit in any existing phylum. Organisms are grouped by similar characteristics. The levels of shared characteristics are then measured using a taxonomic rank, including kingdom, phylum and species.

Researchers explain that the new species are multicellular and mostly non-symmetrical. The organisms, which possess a thick layer of gelatinous material between their outer skin cells and inner stomach cell layers, have been classified as two new species in a new genusDendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides, in the new family, Dendrogrammatidae.

Researchers said the organism specimens, which were collected by scientists in 1986, were preserved in neutral formaldehyde and stored in 80 percent ethanol. Researchers said this process makes the specimens unsuitable for molecular analysis, but they are looking for ways to collect new samples for further analysis.

"New mushroom-shaped animals from the deep sea discovered which could not be placed in any recognized group of animals. Two species are recognized and current evidence suggest that they represent an early branch on the tree of life, with similarities to the 600 mill old extinct Ediacara fauna," researcher Jørgen Olesen said in a news release.

The findings are published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

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