Written by Brian Myers | published
Researchers in Japan recently uncovered an unusual amount from one of the darkest depths of the sea. The black eggs, reportedly laid by flatworms, were taken from the Kuril-Komchatka Trench in the Pacific Northwest. Eggs and the creatures that lay them are among the many mysterious forms of marine life that have evolved to exist at depths exceeding 20,000 feet below the sea's surface.
The skilled research team pulled the black eggs from the murky depths and used remote-controlled retrieval vehicles. At amazing depths, they discovered the eggs stuck to pieces of rock, and succeeded in removing them and extracting them away. Keiichi Kakuei, a researcher at Hokkaido University, wasn't at all sure what the team had discovered, but he was shocked to learn what these jet-black eggs contained.
Black eggs contain a huge amount of flatworm embryos.
DNA analysis of black eggs soon gave researchers an unexpected discovery. Inside the tiny capsules were flatworm embryos at different stages of development. Surprisingly, this was the first time these eggs had been found at this depth, breaking the 17,000 depth they were previously found to survive.
While the discovery of black eggs actually surprised Japanese researchers, it shouldn't be so shocking when scientists discover a species living in previously unknown parts.
When the eggs are carefully opened, a milky white liquid seeps from inside. Each egg contains multiple flatworm embryos, ranging from three to seven per dissected specimen. A fairly impressive amount, considering that black eggs are only about a tenth of an inch in diameter.
Even more shocking is what the DNA analysis revealed. These flatworms are close cousins to the ones we find every day on Earth. Scientists believe that flatworms that live in shallow waters may have moved over time to deeper waters, eventually paving the way for the species that researchers have recovered from incredible depths.
The researchers found the black eggs thousands of feet below what they thought was the flatworm limit.
The mysteries of the deepest parts of the oceans are slowly being solved, although scientists will admit that what is currently known is far from understanding everything in the abyss. While the discovery of black eggs surprised Japanese researchers, it shouldn't be so shocking when scientists discover a species living in previously unknown parts.
It is widely believed among marine scientists that there could be up to two million different species of life in the salty waters that cover most of the Earth's surface. Currently, science has identified only approximately 250,000 of them. Learning about flatworms and their black eggs aside shows how much there is to learn about the depths of the ocean.
Newly identified species from the deepest parts of the ocean are not limited to the eggs of small flatworms, small crustaceans and various amoeba. The giant squid was once thought to be a figment of sailors' imaginations until these giant sea monsters were captured. In 2021, Japanese scientists successfully identified a 55-pound smoothhead fish that had never been discovered before. The big fish was named “Yokozuna”, after the highest rank in sumo wrestling.
source: Royal Society Biology Letters
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