Yoda in the Deep Sea

Written by on October 8, 2012 in Marine Life
Yoda purpurata, found 1.5 miles below the surface. Photo courtesy of David Shale.

Yoda purpurata, found 1.5 miles below the surface. Photo courtesy of David Shale.

During the end of a research expedition, scientists discovered a new species of deep sea acorn worm (Enteropneusts) 2500 meters (1.5 miles) beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.  Because of its shape, they named this new creature after Jedi Master Yoda from Star Wars: Yoda purpurata.

“Our colleague in California Nick Holland, the world authority on the Enteropneusts, chose the name Yoda, for the new genus characterised by its large ear-like lips,” explained Professor Monty Priede, lead researcher and Director of University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab.

The research team notes that Yoda purpurata, and the other two species of acorn worms they discovered, are particularly important because they are close to the evolutionary link between vertebrates (like fish, sharks and humans) and invertebrates (like clams, worms and insects).

“In particular the deep sea species show how a primitive animal with some chordate characteristics but no tail or limbs can drag itself across the sea floor using a muscular collar to gather food and then float above the sea floor to new feeding sites,” said Priede.

“Whilst they are not strictly a missing link in our own evolution they give an insight into what the lifestyle of our remote ancestors might have been like.”

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Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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