Thursday, May 17, 2007

Carnivorous Sponges

Scientists have just begun to assess the ocean's biodiversity. A recent expedition found a treasure trove of 700+ species deep in the Weddell Sea area of the Antarctic Ocean. The official report is in the journal Nature.

"Heart-shaped sea urchins, carnivorous sponges, and giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates are among the surprising discoveries brought up from the seafloor about 2,300 to 19,700 feet (700 to 6,000 meters) beneath the Antarctic waves."

The authors note that, "Our findings challenge suggestions that deep-sea diversity is depressed in the Southern Ocean and provide a basis for exploring the evolutionary significance of the varied biogeographic patterns observed in this remote environment."

1 comment:

  1. The bit about the "suggestion" the Southern ocean's diversity is assumed to be depressed is odd to me. High latitude waters are highly productive for simple physical reasons which exist in both the northern and southern hemisphere.

    It does counter the naive assumption that diversity patterns will mirror those seen on land... but that is a silly assumption in the first place.