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Researchers Identify Mysterious Life Forms in the Extreme Deep Sea

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:20 PM
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Researchers Identify Mysterious Life Forms in the Extreme Deep Sea
ScienceDaily (Oct. 24, 2011) A summer research expedition organized by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has led to the identification of gigantic amoebas at one of the deepest locations on Earth.

During a July 2011 voyage to the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, the deepest region on the planet, Scripps researchers and National Geographic engineers deployed untethered free-falling/ascending landers equipped with digital video and lights to search the largely unexplored region. The team documented the deepest known existence of xenophyophores, single-celled animals exclusively found in deep-sea environments. Xenophyophores are noteworthy for their size, with individual cells often exceeding 10 centimeters (4 inches), their extreme abundance on the seafloor and their role as hosts for a variety of organisms.

The researchers spotted the life forms at depths up to 10,641 meters (6.6 miles) within the Sirena Deep of the Mariana Trench. The previous depth record for xenophyophores was approximately 7,500 meters (4.7 miles) in the New Hebrides Trench, although sightings in the deepest portion of the Mariana Trench have been reported. Scientists say xenophyophores are the largest individual cells in existence. Recent studies indicate that by trapping particles from the water, xenophyophores can concentrate high levels of lead, uranium and mercury and are thus likely highly resistant to large doses of heavy metals. They also are well suited to a life of darkness, low temperature and high pressure in the deep sea.

"The research of Scripps Professor Lisa Levin (deep-sea biologist) has demonstrated that these organisms play host to diverse multicellular organisms," said Doug Bartlett, the Scripps marine microbiologist who organized the Mariana Trench expedition. "Thus the identification of these gigantic cells in one of the deepest marine environments on the planet opens up a whole new habitat for further study of biodiversity, biotechnological potential and extreme environment adaptation."

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024165037.htm
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:23 PM
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1. Very interesting. A 10 cm single-celled animal is bizarre, indeed.
Off I go to get more info on this.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Lots of much better photos:
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:23 PM
Response to Original message
2. Truly fascinating stuff.
It's incredible to imagine cells that big... truly amazing.
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TroglodyteScholar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. An ostrich egg is a single cell... n/t
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #6
14. Yes but it's an egg, not a creature.
And it's also not very novel now, is it?
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tridim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:23 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Nerve cells are pretty damn long.
But that single cell creature is certainly fascinating.
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. True, there are certain nerve cells which are quit elong...
however those again aren't independent creatures.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:26 PM
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4. Nit-pick, if it's single-celled it's NOT an animal, it's a protist.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. although xenophyophores ARE protists...
Edited on Tue Oct-25-11 01:25 PM by mike_c
...the distinction isn't as clear cut as that. They're multinucleate, so they could be interpreted as multicellular but syncytial, as are several of the "lower" animal phyla. In this case, they're protists because of their phylogeny-- they're likely derived from foraminiferans or share a common ancestor with them-- rather than because they lack cellularization of individual nuclei.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. True.
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RC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. 10 mm is 3.937 inches
You don't need a microscope to see those things.
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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:28 PM
Response to Original message
9. Amazing! We are made up of a trillion cells!
Give or take...talk about an alien lifeform! Life exists even in places we would never think it could. The Earth is incredible.
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Warren DeMontague Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:30 PM
Response to Original message
10. can we convert them to Christianity?
If not, can we eat them? :shrug:
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sam11111 Donating Member (638 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. home aquariums? pressurized expensive ones?
Special ones for fans of science?
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Warren DeMontague Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I was being facetious
I'd probably side with 'leave most of them where they are and study them as inobtrusively as possible'
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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
13. Let's hope they never manage to evolve to multicellularism, we will be sooo tasty..
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