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The Discovery of Two Extreme Sea Stars


Two new species of sea stars were discovered in the deep sea: Paulasterias tyleri (on the left) in a North Pacific hydrothermal vent community, and Paulasterias mcclaini (on the right) in the deep sea off the coast of Antarctica.

Credit: 

Chris Mah, NMNH

Recently, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History researcher Chris Mah and collaborators with the British Antarctic Survey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute used molecular tools and a scanning electron microscope to discover two new species of sea stars. These sea stars live across the world from one another, one in Antarctica and one in the North Pacific, yet are closely related species belonging to a brand new family! As Dr. Mah wrote at the Unearthed blog:

Two NEW species from very different locales at bathyal depths of the ocean: the Antarctic and the North Pacific, which analysis has further revealed to be members of a NEW family! Paulasteriidae is the new family, which includes two species: Paulasterias tyleri and Paulasterias mcclaini. This is one of the first new families to be described since 2002! Very disparate pieces of a deep-sea puzzle have been brought together by study at the museum through efforts from teams on two continents and about five different institutions!

Keep reading at Unearthed to find out more about these extreme sea stars, one of which is the first sea star seen living at hydrothermal vents.

Categories: Marine Life, Scientists