Researchers Uncover Cluster of Tiny Black Eggs, Marking First Evidence of Deep-Sea Flatworms at 6,000 Metres

Deep-sea Discovery: Flatworm Eggs Found at Record Depth

Researchers have uncovered a cluster of tiny black eggs deep in the Pacific Ocean, marking the first tangible evidence of the presence of flatworms at a depth of more than 6,000 metres.

Unknown Creatures

At first, researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan did not know what the mysterious black creatures were when the undersea vehicle shone its light on them.

New Species of Flatworm

Marine researcher Yasunori Kano noticed that most of the black pellets were stuck to the rock, torn and empty. Four of them were sent intact to Hokkaido University invertebrate biologists Keiichi Kakuei and Aoi Tsuyuki.

Upon examination, the duo found that each skin covering, or “cocoon,” was about 3 millimeters wide and contained three to seven flatworms. They found that it belonged to an undescribed and unnamed species of flatworm, most closely related to two suborders found in shallow waters.

Reproduction and Colonization

All flatworms are hermaphrodites, meaning they can produce both male and female species. Shallow-water species reproduce sexually by laying eggs in leathery cocoons. Before this discovery, the deepest evidence of “possible flatworms” was found on a piece of sunken wood at a depth of just over 5,200 metres.

The new findings suggest that shallow-water flatworms may have colonized deeper and deeper habitats over time.

Published Study

The study was published in Biology Letters.

Source: ScienceAlert

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