' Marine Biology - Crystalinks


Marine Biology



Only 29 percent of the Earth's surface is land. The rest is ocean, home to marine life. The oceans average nearly four kilometres in depth and are fringed with coastlines that run for 360,000 kilometres.

Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine bodies of water. Given that in biology many phyla, families and genera have some species that live in the sea and others that live on land, marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather than on taxonomy. Marine biology differs from marine ecology as marine ecology is focused on how organisms interact with each other and the environment, while biology is the study of the organisms themselves.

A large proportion of all life on Earth lives in the ocean. Exactly how large the proportion is unknown, since many ocean species are still to be discovered. The ocean is a complex three-dimensional world covering approximately 71% of the Earth's surface. The habitats studied in marine biology include everything from the tiny layers of surface water in which organisms and abiotic items may be trapped in surface tension between the ocean and atmosphere, to the depths of the oceanic trenches, sometimes 10,000 meters or more beneath the surface of the ocean. Specific habitats include coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrass meadows, the surrounds of seamounts and thermal vents, tidepools, muddy, sandy and rocky bottoms, and the open ocean (pelagic) zone, where solid objects are rare and the surface of the water is the only visible boundary. The organisms studied range from microscopic phytoplankton and zooplankton to huge cetaceans (whales) 30 meters (98 feet) in length.

Marine life is a vast resource, providing food, medicine, and raw materials, in addition to helping to support recreation and tourism all over the world. At a fundamental level, marine life helps determine the very nature of our planet. Marine organisms contribute significantly to the oxygen cycle, and are involved in the regulation of the Earth's climate. Shorelines are in part shaped and protected by marine life, and some marine organisms even help create new land.

Many species are economically important to humans, including both finfish and shellfish. It is also becoming understood that the well-being of marine organisms and other organisms are linked in fundamental ways. The human body of knowledge regarding the relationship between life in the sea and important cycles is rapidly growing, with new discoveries being made nearly every day. These cycles include those of matter (such as the carbon cycle) and of air (such as Earth's respiration, and movement of energy through ecosystems including the ocean). Large areas beneath the ocean surface still remain effectively unexplored. Read more ...




In The News ...





New Giant, Air-Breathing Fish Discovered   National Geographic - December 1, 2016
One of the world's largest, most endangered, and most mysterious freshwater fish has yielded a new surprise: a likely new species - and possibly several more - have been lurking in the backwaters of the Amazon. Long, narrow giants, arapaimas live in tropical South America. They can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 440 pounds. They breathe air through a primitive lung, and tend to live in oxygen-poor backwaters.




  400-year-old Greenland shark ‘longest-living vertebrate'   BBC - August 12, 2016
Greenland sharks are now the longest-living vertebrates known on Earth, scientists say. Researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of 28 of the animals, and estimated that one female was about 400 years old. The team found that the sharks grow at just 1cm a year, and reach sexual maturity at about the age of 150.




Fish out of water are more common than thought   Science Daily - June 22, 2016
Fish have evolved the ability to live on land many times, challenging the perception that this extreme lifestyle shift was likely to have been a rare occurrence in ancient times. New research shows 33 different families of fish have at least one species that demonstrates some terrestrial activity and, in many cases, these behaviors are likely to have evolved independently in the different families.




Strange sea-dwelling reptile fossil hints at rapid evolution after mass extinction   PhysOrg - May 23, 2016

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, life on earth was in a tail-spin - climate change, volcanic eruptions, and rising sea levels contributed to a mass extinction that makes the death of the dinosaurs look like child's play. Marine life got hit hardest - 96% of all marine species went extinct. For a long time, scientists believed that the early marine reptiles that came about after the mass extinction evolved slowly, but the recent discovery of a strange new fossil brings that view into question.




New Jellyfish Looks Like an Alien Spacecraft   Discovery - May 3, 2016

With red and yellow lights seeming to glow inside its bulbous body, a newfound jellyfish looks more alien spaceship than deep-sea cnidarian. Using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), marine scientists dove to the deepest part of the world's oceans, called the Mariana Trench, east of the Mariana Islands near Guam in the western Pacific Ocean; they were exploring the so-called Enigma Seamount (named for the lack of information scientists have on it) when they came upon this surreal-looking creature.




  Watch an Amazing 'Ghost Octopus' Discovered in the Deep Sea   National Geographic - March 4, 2016

The deep sea just got a little spookier with the discovery of a ghostly octopod off the Hawaiian archipelago.




  End of the dinosaurs gave rise to the modern 'Age of Fishes,' researchers find   PhysOrg - June 30, 2015

A pair of paleobiologists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego have determined that the world's most numerous and diverse vertebrates – ray-finned fishes – began their ecological dominance of the oceans 66 million years ago, aided by the mass extinction event that killed off dinosaurs. Mammals evolved 250 million years ago but didn't become really important until after the mass extinction. Ray-finned fishes have the same kind of story. The lineage has been around for hundreds of millions of years, but without the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, it is very likely that the oceans wouldn't be dominated by the fish we see today.




Four hundred million year old fish fossil has earliest example of teeth   PhysOrg - June 24, 2015
A pair of researchers has found what appears to be the earliest known example of a creature sporting teeth. After much research, scientists have come to believe that modern teeth, regardless of species, originated from scales on fish - this new research appears to confirm that theory and also offers some new insights into how it was that teeth came to exist.




First Warm-Blooded Fish Identified   Discovery - May 14, 2015
The opah, or moonfish, is the first known fully warm-blooded fish, according to a study published in the journal Science. The determination helps to explain why opah are such high performance predators that have a keen sense of vision, swim speedily, react quickly, and have the stamina to chase down fast-moving prey.




Repeated marine predator evolution tracks changes in ancient and Anthropocene oceans   Science Daily - April 16, 2015
Scientists synthesized decades of scientific discoveries to illuminate the common and unique patterns driving the extraordinary transitions that whales, dolphins, seals and other species underwent as they moved from land to sea. Drawing on recent breakthroughs in diverse fields such as paleontology, molecular biology and conservation ecology, their findings offer a comprehensive look at how life in the ocean has responded to environmental change from the Triassic to the Anthropocene.




A new beginning for baby mosasaurs   PhysOrg - April 11, 2015

A new birth story for a gigantic marine lizard that once roamed the oceans. Thanks to recently identified specimens at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, paleontologists now believe that mighty mosasaurs - which could grow to 50 feet long - gave birth to their young in the open ocean, not on or near shore. The findings answer long-held questions about the initial environment of an iconic predator that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. Mosasaurs populated most waters of the Earth before their extinction 65 million years ago.




Super-Rare Megamouth Shark Washes Ashore In The Philippines   Huffington Post - February 4, 2015

A megamouth shark recently washed ashore in the Philippines, giving scientists a rare up-close glimpse of the bizarre sea creature. Fishermen discovered the lifeless body of the 15-foot male shark on a beach in between the Albay and Masbate provinces on Jan. 28. While the shark's cause of death has yet to be determined, the specimen may shed new light on the species scientists know as Megachasma pelagios. Megamouth sharks can reach up to 17 feet in length and have a life span of around 100 years. They spend most of their time in the deep sea feeding on small shrimp, plankton, and krill. And they're called megamouth for good reason: according to the Post, their gigantic jaws have up to 50 rows of teeth - some of which act as a filter to keep food in and push water out.




Ancient Knife-Toothed Reptile Is Crocodile Cousin   Live Science - January 22, 2015
The fossil of a prehistoric 9-foot-long (2.7 meters) carnivorous reptile that had sharp, serrated teeth is helping researchers fill out the early branches of the reptile family tree, according to a new study. It's unclear where the reptile, Nundasuchus songeaensis, falls on the evolutionary tree. But the new findings show that “it is either the closest relative of the common ancestor of birds and crocodylians, or it is more closely related to crocodylians than to birds, most appropriately called a crocodylian cousin.




  Something out of 'Alien': Rare frilled shark caught off Australian coast   CNN - January 22, 2015
It looks like something out of "Alien" but has more in common with "Jurassic Park." It's a rare frilled shark that has been caught by a fisherman in Australia, where no one remembers ever seeing one caught before. With a mouth packed full of needle-like teeth and a body like an eel's, the 6-foot-long frilled shark is sometimes described as a fish "fossil" that dates back 80 million years.


Rare Shark That Inspired Sea Monster Myths Is Caught   National Geographic - January 22, 2015

With its gaping, tooth-filled mouth and its slender, eel-like body, it's not hard to see why scientists think the frilled shark may have inspired ancient tales of sea monsters. Looking like something out of a nightmare, the deep-sea creature is rarely seen. But fishers in Australia pulled one up this week.




This Bizarre Organism Builds Itself a New Genome Every Time It Has Sex   Wired - September 17, 2014
Oxytricha trifallax lives in ponds all over the world. Under an electron microscope it looks like a football adorned with tassels. The tiny fringes are the cilia it uses to move around and gobble up algae. What makes Oxytricha unusual, however, is the crazy things it does with its DNA. Unlike humans and most other organisms on Earth, Oxytricha doesn't have sex to increase its numbers. It has sex to reinvent itself.




Ancient 'Fish Lizard' Graveyard Discovered Beneath Melting Glacier   Live Science - May 28, 2014
Dozens of nearly complete skeletons of prehistoric marine reptiles have been uncovered near a melting glacier in southern Chile. Scientists found 46 specimens from four different species of extinct ichthyosaurs. These creatures, whose Greek name means "fish lizards," were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 million to 90 million years ago. The newly discovered skeletons are from both embryos and adults. The creatures, likely killed during a series of catastrophic mudslides, were preserved in deep-sea sediments that were later exposed by the melting glacier, the researchers said in the study.




Fossils Suggest Modern Sharks Are More Evolved Than Previously Thought   National Geographic - April 16, 2014
Paleontologists have long thought that sharks hit on the right combination of body shape and internal anatomy early on, and that evolutionary forces didn't tinker much with the design over the following hundreds of millions of years. But a handful of bones in a 325-million-year-old shark-like fossil could upend this idea.




Sea Anemones Are Half-Plant, Half-Animal, Gene Study Finds   Live Science - March 20, 2014

The sea anemone is an oddball: half-plant and half-animal, at least when it comes to its genetic code, new research suggests. The sea creature's genes look more like those of animals, but the regulatory code that determines whether those genes are expressed resembles that in plants




Fossil porpoise has a chin for the ages   PhysOrg - March 13, 2014

Scientists have identified a new species of ancient porpoise with a chin length unprecedented among known mammals and suggest the animal used the tip of its face to probe the seabed for food. Related to living crown porpoises, the extinct Californian porpoise, Semirostrum ceruttii, had an extension of its jaw called a symphysis the analogue of the human chin that measured 85 centimeters in the best-preserved specimen, researchers said. The typical symphysis of a crown porpoise measures one or two centimeters.




Watery Graveyard: Fossils Reveal 1st Evidence of Mass Marine Die-Offs   Live Science - February 25, 2014
Dozens of fossilized whales, seals and other marine animals have been discovered piled up in an ancient tidal flat in northern Chile, providing the first fossil evidence of repeated mass die-offs, according to a new report. Four distinct layers of bones appear at the site, suggesting the mass die-offs - also known as mass strandings - occurred repeatedly over the course of thousands of years, some time between about 6 million and 9 million years ago, an international team of scientists report. Whale bones dominate the site, but the researchers have also identified 10 other types of marine animals in each layer, including aquatic sloths and a brand-new seal species.




Was Your Ancestor a Ball of Jelly? Evolution Study Surprises Experts   National Geographic - December 12, 2013
In a prehistoric version of "the chicken or the egg" question, researchers have long debated which animal group came first. A traditional view pegs sponges - marine creatures that look more like rocks or corals - as our ancient ancestors. But a new genetic study is stirring the waters, suggesting comb jellies, gelatinous marine animals that look similar to jellyfish, are actually the first animals to have evolved over 600 million years ago. While an argument over ancient ancestry may seem academic, it's an important question to answer because it influences how researchers think about the nature of animal evolution




New Genomic Study Provides a Glimpse of How Whales Could Adapt to Ocean   Science Daily - November 25, 2013
Whales roam throughout all of the world's oceans, living in the water but breathing air like humans. At the top of the food chain, whales are vital to the health of the marine environment, whereas 7 out of the 13 great whale species are endangered or vulnerable. The minke whale is the most abundant baleen whale. Its wide distribution makes it an ideal candidate for whole reference genome sequencing. In this study, researchers conducted de novo sequencing on a minke whale with 128x average depth of coverage, and re-sequenced three minke whales, a fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), a bottlenose dolphin, and a finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides). The yielded data may help to improve scientists' understanding of the evolutionary changes adapted to ocean environment from whole genome level.




18-Foot-Long Deep-Sea Creature Found off California   Live Science - October 15, 2013

This 18-foot-long (5.5 meters) oarfish was found off a beach in Southern California on Oct. 13, 2013, and is held here by staff from the Catalina Island Marine Institute.




5 Surprising Facts About the Oarfish That Has Been Washing Up on Beaches   National Geographic - October 23, 2013
This 14-foot (4.3-meter) oarfish washed up on a beach near Oceanside, California, on October 18, 2013. Rarely seen at the surface, the deep-sea fish is the second to hit California's coast in less than a week.




  Oceanographer debunks oarfish earthquake myth   BBC - October 23, 2013
The carcass of an elusive oarfish has been found washed up on a beach in California for the second time in a week. In a modern take on spoken tales, social media has lit up with talk of an ancient Japanese myth linking oarfish sightings to an impending earthquake. But how much truth is behind the myth?




  Can oarfish predict earthquakes? Maybe it's not as crazy as it sounds   NBC - October 23, 2013
Finding a giant oarfish washed up on the beach is a rare occurrence, since the fish is a deepwater species that's rarely seen at all. So when a second oarfish was found just five days later, the rumor mill kicked into high gear. An 18-foot-long (5.5-meter) oarfish carcass discovered on Oct. 13 was considered a once-in-a-lifetime event for beachgoers on Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California. But that event was followed five days later by a second oarfish, measuring 14 feet (4.3 meters), found on a beach in San Diego County. Now, some are claiming that oarfish washing ashore is a sign that an earthquake will soon follow. Shortly before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, about 20 oarfish stranded themselves on beaches in the area, Mark Benfield, a researcher at Louisiana State University, told LiveScience in an earlier interview.




Blobfish wins ugliest animal vote   BBC - September 12, 2013

The grumpy-looking, gelatinous blobfish has won a public vote to become the official mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.




How Octopus Arms Regenerate With Ease   Scientific American - August 28, 2013
Like a starfish, an octopus can regrow lost arms. Unlike a starfish, a severed octopus arm does not regrow another octopus. But the biological secrets inside their arm regeneration feat do hold the promise of learning more about how we might better regenerate our own diseased or lost tissue. If not whole limbs, at least perhaps fresh nerves or organ segments.




Take a Look Through Nature's Most Transparent Animals   National Geographic - May 6, 2013

A team of researchers recently announced the discovery of Cyanogaster noctivaga, a brand new species of transparent fish that lives deep in the Amazon. Indeed, with its transparent skin and dazzling blue belly, the discovery constitutes an entirely new genus and, despite being very hard to see, has been given an eye-catching name that means blue-bellied night wanderer.




Fish Uses Sign Language With Other Species   National Geographic - April 19, 2013
The coral grouper is an agile hunter, quick to chase and attack prey in the open water. And when its prey dives into cracks and crevasses within a coral reef, the grouper uses its own version of sign language to get help, a new study says. The fish enlists the assistance of two other predators, the giant moray eel and the Napoleon wrasse, waiting up to 25 minutes for one to come into sight.




How Whales' Ancestors Left Land Behind   Live Science - March 21, 2013
By moving into the water full-time, the ancestors of whales paved the way for their descendants to become behemoths, largely free from gravity's constraints. Today, the blue whale is the largest animal ever to live. But even before the move, this lineage was setting size records. One ancient cousin to modern whales and hippos, called Andrewsarchus mongoliensis, ranks as the largest mammal known to have stalked the land as a predator. A skull from this creature - the only fossil found so far from this beast - greets visitors on their way into a new exhibit on whales here at the American Museum of Natural History.




Antarctic's First-Ever Whale Skeleton Found   Live Science - March 19, 2013
For the first time ever, scientists say they have discovered a whale skeleton on the ocean floor near Antarctica. Resting nearly a mile below the surface, the boneyard is teeming with strange life, including at least nine new species of tiny of deep-sea creatures, according to a new study. Though whales naturally sink to the ocean floor when they die, it's extremely rare for scientists to come across these final resting places, known as "whale falls." Discovering one typically requires a remote-controlled undersea vehicle and some luck.




Rarest Whale Seen for the First Tim   Discovery - November 5, 2012

The world's rarest whale, previously only known from a few bones, was seen for the first time on a New Zealand beach, according to a new Current Biology paper. The elusive marine mammal is the spade-toothed beaked whale (Mesoplodon traversii). The good news is that it was seen at all, revealing that it still exists. The bad news is that the sighting was of a mother and her male calf, both of which became stranded and died on the beach.




Deep-Sea, Shrimp-like Creatures Survive By Eating Wood   National Geographic - August 28, 2012
Deep-sea, shrimp-like crustaceans get big by munching on sunken wood, even from shipwrecks, according to a new study of amphipods.




New Genitalia-Headed Fish Is Evolutionary Mystery   National Geographic - August 28, 2012
A tiny new species of fish from Vietnam sports its genitalia on its noggin.




Two new species of fish found able to regenerate a lost fin   PhysOrg - February 23, 2012
History has shown that many invertebrates are able to regenerate lost limbs. Rare however, are animals with backbones that are able to do so, and when they do exist, they are usually amphibians or a few species of fish that regenerate parts that are mostly made of skin-like material. Thus the discovery of two species of Polypterus bichir, fish found in Africa, that can regenerate a lost side (pectoral) fin in as little as a month has created some excitement in the scientific community.




"Virgin Birth" Record Broken by Hotel Shark   National Geographic - January 10, 2012
She may be confined to a desert hotel, and far from any males, but a zebra shark named Zebedee is record-breakingly fertile. The female shark, which lives in a restaurant aquarium in Dubai's Burj Al Arab, has experienced four straight years of "virgin births" - a feat never before documented among sharks, according to marine biologist David Robinson. Experts at the resort - billed as the world's most luxurious - had seen Zebedee lay eggs before, but had assumed they held no offspring, because she is never in the presence of any male zebra sharks. Hotel staff first discovered she was reproducing asexually in 2007.




A new theory emerges for where some fish became four-limbed creatures   PhysOrg - December 28, 2011
A small fish crawling on stumpy limbs from a shrinking desert pond is an icon of can-do spirit, emblematic of a leading theory for the evolutionary transition between fish and amphibians. This theorized image of such a drastic adaptation to changing environmental conditions, however, may, itself, be evolving into a new picture.




Rare "Cyclops" Shark Found   BBC - October 21, 2011

Talk about a one-of-a-kind discovery - an extremely rare cyclops shark (pictured) has been confirmed in Mexico, new research shows. The 22-inch-long (56-centimeter-long) fetus has a single, functioning eye at the front of its head - the hallmark of a congenital condition called cyclopia, which occurs in several animal species, including humans. Earlier this year fisher




  New Pacific eel is a 'living fossil', scientists say   BBC - August 17, 2011
A newly discovered eel that inhabits an undersea cave in the Pacific Ocean has been dubbed a "living fossil" because of its primitive features. It is so distinct, scientists created a new taxonomic family to describe its relationship to other eels. The US-Palauan-Japanese team say the eel's features suggest it has a long and independent evolutionary history stretching back 200m years.




How plants drove animals to the land   PhysOrg - September 30, 2010
A new study of ancient oxygen levels presents the first concrete evidence that after aquatic plants evolved and boosted the levels of oxygen aquatic life exploded, leading to fierce competition that eventually led some fish to try to survive on land.




Marine viruses changing Earth's system: study   PhysOrg - September 28, 2010
All but overlooked until the past decade, marine viruses far outnumber any other biological entity on the planet. Scientists are only beginning to discover the invisible particles that are the cogs of Earth's system, changing dynamics in food webs, fisheries, even climate.




Marine scientists unveil the mystery of life on undersea mountains   PhysOrg - September 20, 2010
They challenge the mountain ranges of the Alps, the Andes and the Himalayas in size yet surprisingly little is known about seamounts, the vast mountains hidden under the world's oceans. Now in a special issue of Marine Ecology scientists uncover the mystery of life on these submerged mountain ranges and reveal why these under studied ecosystems are under threat.




Genome of Ancient Sea Sponge Reveals Origins of First Animals, Cancer   Science Daily - August 5, 2010

The sponge, which was not recognized as an animal until the 19th century, is now the simplest and most ancient group of animals to have their genome sequenced. All living animals are descended from the common ancestor of sponges and humans, which lived more than 600 million years ago. A sponge-like creature may have been the first organism with more than one cell type and the ability to develop from a fertilized egg produced by the merger of sperm and egg cells.- that is, an animal.




Warming of Oceans Will Reduce and Rearrange Marine Life   Wired - July 28, 2010
The warmth of the ocean is the critical factor that determines how much productivity and biodiversity there is in the ocean, and where. In two separate studies, researchers found that warming oceans have led to a massive decline in the amount of plant life in the sea over the last century, and that temperature is tightly linked to global patterns of marine biodiversity.




Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm   BBC - July 28, 2010
The amount of phytoplankton - tiny marine plants - in the top layers of the oceans has declined markedly over the last century, research suggests. They made their finding by looking at records of the transparency of sea water, which is affected by the plants.




Marine Biodiversity Strongly Linked to Ocean Temperature   Science Daily - July 28, 2010
In an unprecedented effort that will be published online on the 28th of July by the international journal Nature, a team of scientists mapped and analyzed global biodiversity patterns for over 11,000 marine species ranging from tiny zooplankton to sharks and whales. The researchers found striking similarities among the distribution patterns, with temperature strongly linked to biodiversity for all thirteen groups studied. These results imply that future changes in ocean temperature, such as those due to climate change, may greatly affect the distribution of life in the sea.




Creepy Human Fish Can Live 100 Years   Wired - July 21, 2010
A small blind cave salamander, "the human fish," has broken the world's record for longest-lived amphibian. The salamander, which can live to over 100, is endangered, but reaches such advanced ages in zoos and protected environments.




Scientists discover prehistoric fish under Great Barrier Reef   Telegraph.co.uk - July 16, 2010
Ancient sharks, giant oil fish, swarms of crustaceans and a primitive shell-dwelling squid species called the Nautilus were among the astonishing life captured by remote controlled cameras at Osprey Reef. Justin Marshall, the lead researcher, said his team had also found several unidentified fish species, including "prehistoric six-gilled sharks" using special lowlight sensitive cameras which were custom designed to trawl the ocean floor, 4,593ft (1,400m) below sea level.




Warm-Blooded Marine Reptiles at the Time of the Dinosaurs   Science Daily - June 16, 2010
Between 200 and 65 million years ago, fearsome marine reptiles reigned over the oceans. Were they warm-blooded like today's mammals and birds or cold-blooded like nowadays fish and reptiles? For the first time, a study has settled the debate: some large marine reptiles were warm-blooded (in other words, they were endothermic), giving them a considerable advantage to swim fast over long distances and to conquer cold regions.




Deep sea fish 'mystery migration' across Pacific Ocean   BBC - June 3, 2010
Deep sea fish species found in the north Pacific Ocean have mysteriously been caught in the southwest Atlantic, on the other side of the world. It is unclear how the animals, a giant rattail grenadier, pelagic eelpout and deep sea squid, travelled so far. Their discovery 15,000km from their usual home raises the possibility that deep sea currents can transport animals from one polar region to another.




Whales Evolved in the Blink of an Eye   Live Science - June 3, 2010
Whales evolved explosively fast into a spectacular array of shapes and sizes, a new study suggests. Whales' sizes stretch the imagination from the 100-foot (30-meter) long blue whale - the largest animal to have ever existed - to a small species about the size of a dog. Many ideas exist for how whales evolved into different body types, but the new study, published online in the May 19 edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first attempt to unravel the mystery.




Nine Fish With "Hands" Found to Be New Species   National Geographic - May 25, 2010

Using its fins to walk, rather than swim, along the ocean floor in an undated picture, the pink handfish is one of nine newly named species described in a recent scientific review of the handfish family. Only four specimens of the elusive four-inch (ten-centimeter) pink handfish have ever been found, and all of those were collected from areas around the city of Hobart (map), on the Australian island of Tasmania.




Census offers glimpse of oceans' smallest lifeforms   BBC - April 19, 2010
An unprecedented number of tiny, ocean dwelling organisms have been catalogued by researchers involved in a global survey of the world's oceans. One of the highlights was the discovery of a vast "microbial mat", covering an area equivalent to the size of Greece. Microbes are estimated to constitute up to 90% of all marine biomass.




Photos: Beautiful Hard-to-See Sea Creatures Revealed   National Geographic - April 19, 2010




First oxygen-free animals found   BBC - April 8, 2010
Scientists have found the first animals that can survive and reproduce entirely without oxygen, deep on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea. The team, led by Roberto Danovaro from Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy, found three new species from the Loricifera group.




Mediterranean Sea: First Animals to Live Without Oxygen Discovered   Science Daily - April 7, 2010




Seeing the songs of whales   New Scientist - January 29, 2010
An obscure mathematical trick transforms whale song into strikingly beautiful patterns.




Surprising Sea Slug Is Half-plant, Half-animal   Live Science - January 14, 2010

A green sea slug appears to be part animal, part plant. It's the first critter discovered to produce the plant pigment chlorophyll. The sneaky slugs seem to have stolen the genes that enable this skill from algae that they've eaten. With their contraband genes, the slugs can carry out photosynthesis - the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. "They can make their energy-containing molecules without having to eat anything," said Sidney Pierce, a biologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.




  "Bizarre" Octopuses Carry Coconuts as Instant Shelters   National Geographic - December 14, 2009




"Alien" Jellyfish Found in Arctic Deep   National Geographic - December 12, 2009

In the black depths of the frigid Arctic Ocean, scientists on a 2005 expedition found a splash of color: The brilliant, blood-red Crossota norvegica jellyfish (pictured). The creature was spotted by a remotely operated vehicle 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) underwater during a two-month National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition to the Canada Basin, the deepest and least explored part of the Arctic waters.




Shark Fins Traced to Home Waters Using DNA -- A First   National Geographic - December 3, 2009
Many of the hammerhead sharks that are butchered to feed Asian demand for shark-fin soup start their lives in American waters, a new forensic study shows. For the first time, scientists have used DNA from shark fins to determine where they came from. The researchers traced finds from the scalloped hammerhead shark species collected at the world's biggest fin market in Hong Kong back to rare populations in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans. The trade in shark fins supplies Asian markets with the key ingredient in the luxury dish shark-fin soup. The practice claims up to 73 million sharks annually, including up to 3 million hammerheads. The finless fish are usually tossed back into the ocean to die.




Creatures Build Thicker Shells as Ocean Chemistry Changes   Live Science - December 2, 2009
Scientists have worried in recent years that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is increasing acidification of the ocean, will cause shells of sea creatures to be thin and brittle, potentially threatening the entire ocean ecosystem. So a new finding has surprised the heck out of them. Some shell builders, such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters, unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification.




Scientists trace shark fins to their geographic origin for first time using DNA tools   PhysOrg - December 1, 2009
Millions of shark fins are sold at market each year to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, but it has been impossible to pinpoint which sharks from which regions are most threatened by this trade. Now, groundbreaking new DNA research has, for the first time, traced scalloped hammerhead shark fins from the burgeoning Hong Kong market all the way back to the sharks' geographic origin. In some cases the fins were found to come from endangered populations thousands of miles away.




Hammerhead Sharks See 360 Degrees in Stereo   Live Science - November 27, 2009

Scientists have long wondered why the hammerhead shark has such a strangely shaped head, one that looks like two heads of a hammer protruding from the sides of the shark's snout, with an eye at the outer edge of each protrusion.




Hammerhead shark mystery solved   BBC - November 27, 2009
One hypothesis is that having eyes on either side of such a wide 'hammer' allows the sharks to see better. But even this idea divides scientific opinion, as researchers argue over whether the hammerhead design makes it more or less difficult to see.The mystery may now be solved by a study showing that a hammerhead gives sharks outstanding binocular vision and an ability to see through 360 degrees.




  "Dumbo," Other Deep-Sea Oddities Found   National Geographic - November 22, 2009




  Beyond sunlight: Explorers census 17,650 ocean species between edge of darkness and black abyss   PhysOrg - November 22, 2009




Deep-Sea World Beyond Sunlight: Explorers Census 17,650 Ocean Species on Edge of Black Abyss   Science Daily - November 23, 2009
Revealed via deep-towed cameras, sonar and other vanguard technologies, animals known to thrive in an eternal watery darkness now number 17,650, a diverse collection of species ranging from crabs to shrimp to worms. Most have adapted to diets based on meager droppings from the sunlit layer above, others to diets of bacteria that break down oil, sulfur and methane, the sunken bones of dead whales and other implausible foods.




  Ghostly 'dance of a sea dragon'   BBC - October 29, 2009

One of the most elegant courtship rituals in the animal kingdom has been captured on film by a BBC crew. The dance of the weedy sea dragon takes place every year in the shallow seas off the coast of Australia. During the ghostly dance, two beautifully odd-looking fish mirror each other's every movement. At the end of the ritual, the male fish is the one to get pregnant, giving birth two months later, a process the BBC crew filmed for the first time.




  Colossal 'sea monster' unearthed   BBC - October 27, 2009
The fossilised skull of a colossal "sea monster" has been unearthed along the UK's Jurassic Coast. The ferocious predator, which is called a pliosaur, terrorized the oceans 150 million years ago. The skull is 2.4m long, and experts say it could belong to one of the largest pliosaurs ever found: measuring up to 16m in length.




Weird New Ghostshark Found; Male Has Sex Organ on Head   National Geographic - September 22, 2009
California has a new star, the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark. But the newly identified species prefers to stay out of the sun - and the spotlight. And with a club-like sex organ on its forehead, the male ghostshark isn't likely to get any leading man roles. Pictured alive underwater (top) and preserved in a museum collection (bottom), the new ghostshark uses winglike fins to "fly" through its dark habitat, thousands of feet deep off the coasts of California and Mexico's Baja California peninsula, a new study says.




Bizarre Gelatinous Fish Found in Brazil   National Geographic - September 22, 2009
Initial accounts quoted the scientists calling the creature "completely new, scientifically speaking." But fish experts looking at video footage of the bizarre fish have identified it as a member of Ateleopodidae, a little-understood group of deep-sea fish known to science since the 1840s.




Eyeless Creature Discovered in Undersea Tunnel   Live Science - August 26, 2009
A previously unknown species of an eyeless crustacean was discovered lurking inside a lava tube beneath the seafloor. The creature, named Speleonectes atlantida, lives in the Tunnel de la Atlantida, the world's longest submarine lava tube on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands off the western coast of northern Africa. The discovery, which has implications for the evolution of an ancient group of crustaceans, will be detailed in September in a special issue of the journal Marine Biodiversity. While in the cave, the international team of scientists and cave divers also discovered two previously unknown species of annelid worms.




First-ever 'Wanderlust Gene' Found In Tiny Bony Fish   Science Daily - August 6, 2009
A gene previously associated with physical traits is also dictating behavior in a tiny fish widely regarded as a living model of Darwin's natural selection theory, according to a University of British Columbia study. Measuring three to 10 centimetres, stickleback fish originated in the ocean but began populating freshwater lakes and streams following the last ice age. Over the past 15,000 years, freshwater sticklebacks have lost their bony lateral plates, or "armour," in these new environments. Scientists have identified a mutant form of a gene, or allele, that prohibits growth of armour and is commonly found in freshwater sticklebacks but exists in less than one per cent of their marine counterparts.




  Rare Albino Whale Spotted   National Geographic - July 2, 2009
Migaloo, a twentysomething rare white humpback whale was seen this week along Australia's east coast, where he's migrating northward with other humpbacks.




Blue Whale Discovered Singing In New York Coastal Waters   Science Daily - May 30, 2009

For the very first time in New York coastal waters, the voices of singing blue whales have been positively identified. Acoustic experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Bioacoustics Research Program (BRP) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) confirmed that the voice of a singing blue whale was tracked about 70 miles off of Long Island and New York City on Jan. 10-11, 2009, as the whale swam slowly from east to west. At the same time, a second blue whale was heard singing offshore in the far distance.




Oldest Sea Creatures Have Been Alive 4,000 Years   Live Science - March 24, 2009
Deep-sea corals are the oldest living animals with a skeleton in the seas, claims new research that found a 4,265-year-old coral species off the coast of Hawaii. Deep-sea corals, which are threatened by climate change and pollution like shallow water corals are, grow on seamounts (mountains rising from the seafloor that don't reach the ocean's surface) and continental margins at depths of about 1,000 to 10,000 feet (300 to 3,000 meters).




Smallest Whale Shark Discovered   National Geographic - March 9, 2009

The discovery of the baby whale shark could help protect these rare giants by shedding light on where whale sharks are born.




  Oldest Fossil Brain Found in "Bizarre" Prehistoric Fish   National Geographic - March 3, 2009




  Oldest fossil brain found in Kansas   PhysOrg - March 2, 2009




Fossil Fish: Oldest Fossil Brain Find Is 'Really Bizarre'   Live Science - March 2, 2009
Most fossil specimens can only wish they had a brain. But paleontologists recently discovered the oldest known example nestled within a 300-million-year-old fish fossil from Kansas. The rare find provides an unusually detailed view of brain structure in prehistoric life. It similarly sheds light on the extinct relatives of modern ratfishes, also known as "ghost sharks" or chimaeras. Soft tissue has fossilized in the past, but it is usually muscle and organs like kidneys because of phosphate bacteria from the gut that permeates into tissue and preserves its features,. Fossilized brains are unusual, and this is by far the oldest known example.




Blue Whale Birth Caught on Film -- A First   National Geographic - March 4, 2009

A baby blue whale (shown with photographer) filmed off Costa Rica may be the first to have been photographed underwater and adds to evidence that a blue whale hot spot in the Pacific Ocean is a birthing ground for the endangered species.




  "Psychedelic" Fish Hops on Seafloor   National Geographic - February 27, 2009

A newly discovered frogfish - dubbed the psychedelic fish because of its colorful stripes - hops along the seabed by flexing its lower fins and shooting water from its gills.




Freaky Fish Has Eyes Like Ours   Live Science - February 25, 2009




Fish With Transparent Head, "Barrel" Eyes   National Geographic - February 24, 2009

With a head like a fighter-plane cockpit, a Pacific barreleye fish shows off its highly sensitive, barrel-like eyes--topped by green, orblike lenses--in a picture released today but taken in 2004. The fish, discovered alive in the deep water off California's central coast by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is the first specimen of its kind to be found with its soft transparent dome intact. The 6-inch (15-centimeter) barreleye (Macropinna microstoma) had been known since 1939 - but only from mangled specimens dragged to the surface by nets.   Watch the film




Odd, Identical Species Found at Both Poles National Geographic - February 15, 2009

Spinning a "mucus net" off its paddle-like foot-wings to trap algae and other foods, the swimming snail species Limacina helicinia is no bigger than a bean. But the discovery that it and at least 234 other species inhabit both Arctic and Antarctic waters is big news to biologists.




Ice oceans 'are not poles apart' BBC - February 15, 2009
At least 235 marine species are living in both polar regions, despite being 12,000km apart, a census has found. At least 235 marine species are living in both polar regions, despite being 12,000km apart, a census has found. Scientists were surprised to find the same species of "swimming snails" at both poles, raising questions about how they evolved and became so dispersed.




Five New Pygmy Seahorse Species Found   National Geographic - February 5, 2009

The Walea pygmy seahorse is one of five species named in a flurry of recent seahorse discoveries from coral reefs in the Red Sea and Indonesia. All five are less than an inch tall (2.5 centimeters) and are among the tiniest known vertebrates. It was thanks to the keen eyes of underwater photographers and divers that these secretive specimens came to light. The seahorses, described in December 2008 and January 2009 studies, are the first to be discovered in five years.




'Seuss-like' Sea Creatures Discovered   Live Science - February 5, 2009

A newly identified species of carnivorous sea squirt lurks in the deep sea off Australia, where it traps and devours meaty prey swimming past. The deep-sea resident, along with two other marine species that are new to science, were discovered by an international team of scientists during a month-long voyage aboard the research vessel RV Thompson to a marine reserve near Tasmania. The findings were announced today. An expedition below the surface relied on the remotely operated submersible called Jason, which dropped to depths of more than 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).




Earliest Animals Were Sea Sponges, Fossils Hint   National Geographic - February 5, 2009
Fossil steroids found underground in Oman show that early Earth was the scene of a sea sponge heyday more than 635 million years ago. The ancient chemicals similar to modern natural steroids such as estrogen and testosterone are now the oldest known fossil evidence of animal life, says a new study led by Gordon Love of the University of California, Riverside. Based on chemical signatures inside sedimentary rocks, Love and colleagues think the sponges likely grew in colonies that blanketed areas of the ocean floor. Back then the supercontinent Rodinia, which had been Earth's dominant landmass for at least 350 million years, was in the process of breaking up, and the climate was extremely cold worldwide.




Early Whales Gave Birth on Land, Fossils Reveal   National Geographic - February 3, 2009

It's an evolutionary discovery Darwin himself would have been proud of. Forty-seven million years ago primitive whales gave birth on land, according to a study published this week that analyzes the fossil of a pregnant whale found in the Pakistani desert. t is the first fetal fossil from the group of ancient amphibious whales called Archaeoceti, as well as the first from an extinct species called Maiacetus inuus. When the fossil was discovered, nine years ago, University of Michigan paleontologist Philip Gingerich was thrown off by the jumble of adult and fetal-size bones. The first thing we found were small teeth, then ribs going the wrong way. Later it was just astonishing to realize why the specimen in the field was so confusing.




A single-celled ball about the size of a grape may provide an explanation for one of the mysteries of fossil history    BBC - November 21, 2008
The forerunners of giant single-celled organisms living on the ocean floor may have left fossil tracks often attributed to more complex creatures.




   Why Do Dolphins Rub Flippers? National Geographic - November 10, 2008
Researchers have filmed dophins' behaviors, which include flipper rubbing, to better understand the behaviors' meanings.

Octopuses share 'living ancestor' BBC - November 10, 2008
Many of the world's deep-sea octopuses evolved from a common ancestor, whose closest relative still exists in the Southern Ocean, a study has shown. Researchers suggest that the creatures evolved after being driven to other ocean basins 30 million years ago by nutrient-rich and salty currents. The findings form part of a decade-long global research programme to learn more about life in the world's oceans.




Fish With First Neck Evolved Into Land Animal - Slowly National Geographic - October 15, 2008
The skull of a 375-million-year-old walking fish reveals new clues to how our fish ancestors evolved into land dwellers. The fossil fish called Tiktaalik roseae was discovered in the Canadian Arctic in 2004 and provides the 'missing link' between fish and land vertebrates, according to scientists. It's also the proud owner of the world's first known neck.




Details Of Evolutionary Transition From Fish To Land Animals Revealed Science Daily - October 16, 2008
New research has provided the first detailed look at the internal head skeleton of Tiktaalik roseae, the 375-million-year-old fossil animal that represents an important intermediate step in the evolutionary transition from fish to animals that walked on land. A predator, up to nine feet long, with sharp teeth, a crocodile-like head and a flattened body, Tiktaalik's anatomy and way of life straddle the divide between fish and land-living animals. First described in 2006, and quickly dubbed the "fishapod," it had fish-like features such as a primitive jaw, fins and scales, as well as a skull, neck, ribs and parts of the limbs that are similar to tetrapods, four-legged animals.




Shark "Virgin Birth" Confirmed National Geographic - October 10, 2008
A female blacktip shark in Virginia fertilized her own egg without mating with a male shark, new DNA evidence shows. This is the second time scientists have used DNA testing to verify shark parthenogenesis the process that allows females of some species to produce offspring without sperm. The female shark, dubbed Tidbit, died during a routine physical exam before the pregnancy was identified.




Whales Heard Near New York City Live Science - September 17, 2008
The calls of three whale species have been heard in the waters around New York City for the first time. Scientists had never listened so intently before. So after installing sound recorders 13 miles from the New York Harbor entrance and off the shores of Fire Island, a team of researchers heard the calls of fin, humpback and North Atlantic right whales. "These are some of the largest and rarest animals on this planet trying to make a living just a few miles from New York's shores," said Chris Clark, director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.




Fluorescent-Red Glowing Fish Found Live Science - September 16, 2008

Dr. Seuss had it right with "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish." Only put the emphasis on red. Scientists have found that red is a favorite color among some fish and have discovered several that actually fluoresce in the vibrant hue. Until now, many researchers had considered the color red way out of fashion in the underwater realm, where red wavelengths of sunlight are immediately absorbed by seawater near the surface, said Nico Michiels of the University of Tübingen, Germany, who led a team that discovered the red fish.




Whales Had Legs, Wiggled Hips, Study Says National Geographic - September 11, 2008
An early whale had large back legs, a tail like a dog's, and a hip-wiggling swimming style, according to a new fossil study. The discovery helps pinpoint the advent of "modern" whale flukes to between 38 and 40 million years ago, scientists say.




   Live fish caught at record depth BBC - July 31, 2008




Human Speech Traced to Talking Fish Live Science - July 18, 2008
Researchers say real fish can communicate with sound, too. And they say (the researchers, that is) that your speech skills and, in fact, all sound production in vertebrates can be traced back to this ability in fish.




Odd Fish Find Contradicts Intelligent-Design Argument National Geographic - July 9, 2008
The discovery of a missing link in the evolution of bizarre flatfishes each of which has both eyes on the same side of its head could give intelligent design advocates a sinking feeling.




Marine worms follow Fibonacci's lead ABC - June 19, 2008

The complicated growth patterns of a group of common marine worms appear to be governed by simple mathematical rules built into their genes, a new report suggests. The report, which appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that the appendages that grow along the bodies of some species of polychaete worms follow a mathematical sequence known as the Fibonacci string sequence.

Polychaetes, sometimes called bristle worms, have a segmented body, each with a pair of fleshy appendages covered in bristles. In one group, these appendages, known as dorsal cirri, grow in characteristic patterns of alternating short and long versions. One of the researchers, Professor Stephen Glasby, a mathematician from Central Washington University, says each species exhibited different sequences. "Different species by and large have different sequences of short and long appendages, and they can be quite complicated," says Glasby. To better understand the numemic nature of the polychaetes, Glasby worked alongside his brother Dr Chris Glasby from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and Dr Fredrik Pleijel from Gothenburg University in Sweden.

Zeros and Ones

The researchers converted the sequence of long and short appendages into a series of zeros and ones. Next, they entered that sequence into an online database of number sequences. "We typed in the series of zeros and ones, and lo and behold, a number of very simple sequences showed up that matched the dorsal cirri of a large number of worms, one of which was the Fibonacci string sequence," says Glasby.

The Fibonacci string sequence consists numbers where the next number in the sequence is calculated by adding up the previous two numbers - 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.... "This is an incredibly simple growth rule that explains the sequence of cirri on these species of worms. We looked at a number of worms and for some species the growth of long and short cirri could be explained by other very simple rules," Glasby says. The researchers stress that they have not found a genetic basis for the patterns, but say their work shows how mathematics could provide valuable clues for biologists. "We're trying to find simple mathematical rules that explain the biological observations" Glasby says. "One of the only major hopes for getting a deeper understanding of the genetic code is going to pure mathematics."




Hot Life-Forms Found a Mile Under Seafloor National Geographic - May 23, 2008
Life-forms have been found thriving a mile (1.6 kilometers) beneath the seafloor in hot sediments, a new study says. The finding doubles the maximum known depth for organisms under the ocean bottom—and may be an encouraging sign for the search for life on other planets




"Reverse Evolution" Found in Seattle Fish National Geographic - May 20, 2008
When a historic cleanup helped clear the waters of a polluted lake near Seattle, a population of tiny, spiny fish called sticklebacks may have "evolved in reverse" to survive. In the 1950s, Lake Washington, an inland lake that parallels Washington State's Pacific Coast, took on 20 million gallons (76 million liters) of phosphorous-laden sewage a day.




Mantis shrimp sees colors invisible to humans and other animals, viewing the world in 11 or 12 primary colors National Geographic - May 20, 2008

The mantis shrimp is known to see colors invisible to humans and other animals, viewing the world in 11 or 12 primary colors, as opposed to our humble 3. Now a new study has found that the shrimp also have optimal ability to see different forms of light polarization directions in which light vibrate




Colossal Squid Has Glowing "Cloaking Device," Huge Eyes National Geographic - May 2, 2008
A colossal squid being defrosted this week in New Zealand is yielding "astonishing" new discoveries. For starters, the giant species has the world's biggest eyes, as well as light-emitting organs that may serve as cloaking devices, scientists say.

Photos: Colossal Squid Revealed in First In-Depth Look National Geographic - May 2, 2008




The Freaky Fish of the Congo Live Science - May 2, 2008
In his classic novella "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad's protagonist, Marlow, describes the Congo River as an immense snake "... uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land." A description that, while wonderfully evocative, is also a bit menacing. I am happy to report that my own experiences conducting research in the Congo have been nothing so menacing nor so dark. On the contrary. For the past three years I have — with support from the National Science Foundation and a team of U.S. and Congolese students and colleagues — been exploring and documenting the fish biodiversity of the lower Congo River, which is the head and neck of Conrad's imaginary snake.




No sex for all-girl fish species BBC - April 23, 2008
A fish species, which is all female, has survived for 70,000 years without reproducing sexually, experts believe.




Rare white killer whale spotted in Alaska MSNBC - March 7, 2008




Genome Of Marine Organism Tells Of Humans' Unicellular Ancestors Science Daily - February 20, 2008




Video: Giant Sea Spiders Found National Geographic - February 19, 2008

Scientists studying Antarctic waters have filmed and captured giant sea creatures, like sea spiders the size of dinner plates and jelly fish with six meter (18 feet) tentacles.




Whales Evolved From Tiny Deerlike Mammals, Study Says National Geographic - December 20, 2007
The nearest ancestors of Earth's largest-ever animals were tiny deerlike creatures that jumped into rivers to flee prehistoric predators, a new study suggests. These semiaquatic, raccoon-size mammals dubbed Indohyus lived in southern Asia some 48 million years ago.




Why Deep-Diving Mammals Don't Black Out Live Science - December 19, 2007
Some seals and dolphins can hold their breath underwater for a cheek-popping hour or more without passing out from lack of oxygen. Definitely don't try this at home. Humans can't make it more than a few minutes without breathing (at least without some sci-fi device). The secret to the superhero animal feat is elevated levels of special oxygen-carrying proteins found in their brains, a new study reveals. But the research leaves puzzles.




Fish-Like Creature Glows in the Dark Live Science - November 6, 2007

As if tiny flashlights were hidden inside its body, a fish-like creature emits fluorescent flecks, a flashing ability previously considered unique to jellyfish and corals. Researchers found that the bodies of amphioxus, also called lancelets, contain green fluorescent proteins that could act as a sunscreen or stress shield that protects the animals from environmental changes.




Ming the clam is oldest mollusc - 400 Years Old BBC - October 29, 2007

A clam dredged up off the coast of Iceland is thought to have been the longest-lived mollusc discovered. Scientists said the ocean quahog clam was aged between 405 and 410 years and could offer insights into the secrets of longevity. Researchers from Bangor University in north Wales said they calculated its age by counting rings on its shell. The clam has been nicknamed Ming, after the Chinese dynasty in power when it was born.




Fish Lives in Logs, Breathing Air, for Months at a Time National Geographic - November 6, 2007

A tiny Western Atlantic fish does something never before seen - It makes like a bird, living in mangrove wood for months at a time.




The mangrove killifish can survive for months in a tree Daily Mail - October 18, 2007




Mangrove Rivulus Wikipedia

It's one of the golden rules of the natural world - birds live in trees, fish live in water. The trouble is, no one bothered to tell the mangrove killifish. Scientists have discovered that it spends several months of every year out of the water and living inside trees. Hidden away inside rotten branches and trunks, the remarkable creatures temporarily alter their biological makeup so they can breathe air. Biologists studying the killifish say they astonished it can cope for so long out of its natural habitat. The discovery, along with its ability to breed without a mate, must make the mangrove killifish, Rivulus marmoratus Poey, one of the oddest fish known to man.

Around two inches long, they normally live in muddy pools and the flooded burrows of crabs in the mangrove swamps of Florida, Latin American and Caribbean. The latest discovery was made by biologists wading through swamps in Belize and Florida who found hundreds of killifish hiding out of the water in the rotting branches and trunks of trees. The fish had flopped their way to their new homes when their pools of water around the roots of mangroves dried up. Inside the logs, they were lined up end to end along tracks carved out by insects.

Although the cracks inside logs make a perfect hiding place, conditions can be cramped. The fish - which are usually fiercely territorial - are forced to curb their aggression. Another study, published earlier this year, revealed how they alter their bodies and metabolism to cope with life out of water. Their gills are altered to retain water and nutrients, while they excrete nitrogen waste through their skin. These changes are reversed as soon as they return to the water. Previously their biggest claim to fame was that they are the only known vertebrate - animal with a backbone – to reproduce without the need for a mate.

Killifish can develop both female and male sexual organs, and fertilize their eggs while they are still in the body, laying tiny embryos into the water. They are not the only fish able to breathe air. The walking catfish of South-east Asia has gills that allow it to breathe in air and in water. The climbing perch of India can suffocate in water unless it can also gulp in air.




Manila: Exotic creatures found in 'coral triangle' National Geographic - October 16, 2007




Scientists Discover Rare Albino Ratfish Live Science - September 24, 2007




When Bivalves Ruled The World Science Daily - September 1, 2007
Before the worst mass extinction of life in Earth's history -- 252 million years ago -- ocean life was diverse and clam-like organisms called brachiopods dominated. After the calamity, when little else existed, a different kind of clam-like organism, called a bivalve, took over.




"Extinct" River Dolphin Spotted in China National Geographic - September 1, 2007
A confirmed sighting of a baiji dolphin just months after it was declared "extinct" has prompted scientists to launch an against-all-odds plan to save the last of the rare Chinese river dwellers. A team of marine-life scholars led by Wang Ding, a scientist at China's Institute of Hydrobiology, examined digital video footage recently taken along the eastern section of the Yangtze River. The video provides evidence of the survival of the baiji, or whitefin dolphin, the team confirmed.




Rare dolphin 'sighted' in China BBC - August 29, 2007
The critically endangered Yangtze River dolphin, or baiji, has been sighted in eastern China, Chinese media report. Scientists had recently declared that the baiji was probably extinct. An international team of researchers spent six weeks looking for the creature last year without a single sighting. But earlier this month the baiji was spotted and filmed by a local man, and confirmed by Chinese biologists, says official Xinhua news agency.




Colorful Carpet of Cool Sea Creatures Discovered 2 Miles Deep Live Science - August 24, 2007
A submerged mountain ridge beneath the North Atlantic Ocean has revealed a new crustacean species and oodles of other life forms, ranging from polka-dotted glass squid resembling beach balls to grim viperfish with teeth like ice-picks.




Weird Deep-Sea Creatures Found in Atlantic National Geographic - August 22, 2007
Colorful Carpet of Cool Sea Creatures Discovered 2 Miles Deep Live Science - August 24, 2007
A submerged mountain ridge beneath the North Atlantic Ocean has revealed a new crustacean species and oodles of other life forms, ranging from polka-dotted glass squid resembling beach balls to grim viperfish with teeth like ice-picks.




Sharks have fingers? They have genes for digits but turn them off MSNBC - August 17, 2007
The genetic potential to create fingers and toes apparently existed ages before animals even crawled onto land, dating back to the distant common ancestors of sharks and humans, research now reveals. The research focused on a group of genes that control how and where body parts develop in animals, including people. Scientists investigated the activity of these "Hox genes" in embryos of the spotted catshark. Unexpectedly, they discovered that a spurt of genetic activity that helps digits such as fingers and toes develop in limbed animals was seen in shark embryos as well.




Jaws, Teeth of Earliest Bony Fish Discovered National Geographic - August 1, 2007
Fossils of sardine-size fish that swam in ancient oceans are the earliest examples of vertebrates with teeth that grow from their jawbones, according to new a new study. The fish, which lived 420 million years ago, are a "very modest" beginning for the jaw-and-tooth pattern widespread in nature today, said study co-author Philippe Janvier, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.




Fisherman catches 'living fossil' BBC - August 1, 2007
An extremely rare "living fossil" caught by a fisherman in Indonesia is being examined by scientists.




Rare "Octosquid" Captured in Hawaii National Geographic - July 6, 2007




19th century lance found in whale BBC - June 13, 2007
A 50-ton bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt - more than a century ago. Scientists have retrieved a weapon fragment from a whale that suggests it may have swum its first strokes not long after the American Civil War. The fragment is part of a time delay bomb that was introduced in 1879 and manufactured until 1885. Scientists say it is rare to find a whale over 100 years old but believe some may reach 200.




Hammerhead Shark Gave "Virgin Birth" in Omaha Zoo National Geographic - May 26, 2007
A hammerhead shark born in a Nebraska zoo in 2001 was the result of a so-called virgin birth, new DNA evidence shows. The finding marks the first confirmed case of a female shark fertilizing her own eggs and giving birth without sperm from a male, a process known as parthenogenesis.




Researchers discover ancient undersea world Guardian - April 24, 2007
A lost landscape where early humans roamed more than 12,000 years ago has been uncovered beneath the North Sea. A map of the underwater world reveals crisscrossing rivers, giant lakes and gentle hills around which hunter-gatherers made their homes and found their meals toward the end of the last ice age. The region was inundated between 18,000 and 6,000BC, when the warming climate melted the thick glaciers that pressed down from the north. As the waters rose, the great plain vanished, and slowly, the contours of the British isles and the north-west European coastline were established. Now, the primitive landscape is submerged and preserved,tens of metres beneath one of the busiest seas in the world.




New Marine Species Discovered In Eastern Pacific Science Daily - March 9, 2007
Smithsonian scientists have discovered a biodiversity bounty in the Eastern Pacific--approximately 50 percent of the organisms found in some groups are new to science. The research team spent 11 days in the Eastern Pacific, a unique, understudied region off the coast of Panama.




NZ fishermen land colossal 1,000 pound squid BBC - February 22, 2007
New Zealand fishermen have caught what is expected to be a world-record-breaking colossal squid. Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said the squid, weighing an estimated 450kg (990lb),took two hours to land in Antarctic waters. Local news said the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni was about 10m (33ft) long, and was the first adult colossal squid landed intact. One expert said calamari rings made from it would be like tractor tyres.




Large squid lights up for attack National Geographic - February 14, 2007
Monster-size, deep-sea squid that use their glowing arms to blind and stun their prey have been filmed in the wild for the first time, scientists say. The mysterious creatures were videotaped as they hunted deep in the North Pacific Ocean off southeastern Japan




Rare "Prehistoric" Shark Photographed Alive National Geographic - January 24, 2007
Flaring the gills that give the species its name, a frilled shark swims at Japan's Awashima Marine Park on Sunday, January 21, 2007. Sightings of living frilled sharks are rare, because the fish generally remain thousands of feet beneath the water's surface. Spotted by a fisher on January 21, this 5.3-foot (160-centimeter) shark was transferred to the marine park, where it was placed in a seawater pool. "We think it may have come to the surface because it was sick, or else it was weakened because it was in shallow waters," a park official told the Reuters news service. But the truth may never be known, since the "living fossil" died hours after it was caught.




Extreme New Species Discovered by Sea-Life Survey National Geographic - December 11, 2006
A host of weird and wonderful discoveries from across the seven seas has been discovered this year, according to a global census of ocean life. Heat-resistant volcanic shrimps, bacteria-farming furry crabs, and a giant species of lobster are among the finds made by marine scientists probing some of the world's deepest and remotest seas.




Prehistoric fish packed a mean bite MSNBC - November 29, 2006




Whale Vocabulary More Elaborate Than Thought Live Science - November 28, 2006

Humpback whales have a type of brain cell seen only in humans, the great apes, and other cetaceans such as dolphins.




Bizarre deep-sea creatures imaged off New Zealand New Scientist - November 27, 2006




'Nymph Of The Sea' Reveals Remarkable Brood Science Daily - November 24, 2006

Geologists have made an unusual discovery from over 425 million years ago ... hard boiled eggs!




Stunning finds of fish and coral BBC - September 18, 2006


Discoveries of hugely diverse fish and coral species in the Indonesian archipelago have amazed researchers. Shark walks on fins ...




Shark Fins and Human Arms Made from Same Genes Live Science - July 26, 2006




Surprising Beauty Discovered on Pacific Seafloor Live Science - June 26, 2006




Hawaii Islands Named World's Largest Marine Sanctuary BBC - June 16, 2006
Surpassing Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) will form part of a 140,000-square-mile (362,580-square-kilometer) protected area nearly the size of California.




Atlantic Ocean has returned with tiny animals which appear new to science BBC - May 5, 2006

A three-week voyage of discovery in the Atlantic has returned with tiny animals which appear new to science. They include waif-like plankton with delicate translucent bodies related to jellyfish, hundreds of microscopic shrimps, and several kinds of fish. The voyage is part of the ongoing Census of Marine Life (CoML) which aims to map ocean life throughout the world. Plankton form the base of many marine food chains, and some populations are being disrupted by climatic change.




African fish leaps for land bugs BBC - April 13, 2006
Scientists have described a fish that can hunt and catch its prey on land. The eel catfish, Channallabes apus, is found in the muddy swamps of the tropics of western Africa. The 30-40cm-long (12-16in) fish is able to propel itself out of the water and bend its head downwards to capture insects in its jaws. The Belgian researchers, writing in the journal Nature, hope this discovery will help to explain how fish moved from sea to land millions of years ago.




Fossil Fish With "Limbs" Is Missing Link, Study Says National Geographic - April 6, 2006
Fossil hunters may have discovered the fish that made humans possible. Found in the Canadian Arctic, the new fossil boasts leglike fins, scientists say. The creature is being hailed as a crucial missing link between fish and land animals - including the prehistoric ancestors of humans.




Arctic fossils mark move to land BBC - April 5, 2006


Fossil animals found in Arctic Canada provide a snapshot of fish evolving into land animals, scientists say. The finds are giving researchers a fascinating insight into this key stage in the evolution of life on Earth.




'Furry lobster' find in Pacific BBC - March 8, 2006

Marine biologists have discovered a crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster or crab covered in what looks like silky fur. Kiwa hirsuta is so distinct from other species that scientists have created a new taxonomic family for it. A US-led team found the animal last year in waters 2,300m (7,540ft) deep at a site 1,500km (900 miles) south of Easter Island, an expert has claimed.




Tiny fish sets new world record BBC - January 25, 2006

Researchers have found one of the smallest known fish on record in the peat swamps of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Individuals of the Paedocypris genus can be just 7.9mm long at maturity, scientists write in a journal published by the UK's Royal Society. But they warn long-term prospects for the fish are poor, because of rapid destruction of Indonesian peat swamps. The fish have to survive in pools of acid water in a tropical forest swamp.




Seafloor Creatures Destroyed By Ice Action During Ice Ages Science Daily - October 19, 2005
Research by marine scientists reveals that it was a time of mass destruction as whole communities of animals were wiped out by ice sheets scouring the sea floor. In the past it has been thought that these ecosystems somehow dodged extinction by recolonizing from nearby habitats that escaped obliteration. But researchers at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOC) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) reveal a bleaker scenario.




Great white's marathon sea trek BBC - October 6, 2005
A great white shark crossed the Indian ocean from South Africa to Australia and back again within just nine months. Nicole logged more than 12,000 miles swimming from Africa to Australia and back, the first proof of a link between the two continents' shark populations, researchers say.




Sea monsters found in desert News in Science - May 25, 2005

Australia is emerging as a missing link in the evolution of giant prehistoric marine reptiles, says a scientist who has discovered what may be a new species of plesiosaur.




Gulf of Mexico "Dead Zone" Is Size of New Jersey National Geographic - May 26, 2005
Each year a swath of the Gulf of Mexico becomes so devoid of shrimp, fish, and other marine life that it is known as the dead zone.




Whales 'led astray by magnetism' BBC May 13, 2005
Increased solar activity causing disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field may cause whales to run aground in the North Sea, say researchers. Analysis of whales stranded between 1712 and 2003 shows that more are stranded when solar activity is high. Writing in the Journal of Sea Research, scientists propose that whales use the Earth's magnetic field to assist navigation like homing pigeons do. As the Sun disrupts the magnetic field whales can become confused, they say.




Warmer waters 'drive fish north' BBC - May 12, 2005
Many fish species in the North Sea are steadily moving northwards to escape warming waters, researchers report. Commercially important fish such as cod, whiting and anglerfish have shifted significantly north, while some other species moved to colder depths. Scientists warn in Science magazine that some fish may disappear from the North Sea by 2050. They say commercial fisheries will have to take account of global warming as well as dwindling fish stocks.




Fish Diversity Tied to Evolution of Diving Ability Scientific American - March 21,2005
From clownfish to catfish, grouper to great white, the diversity of fish in the sea is nothing short of astonishing. Now scientists have managed to account for this wide assortment, at least in part, by tracing the evolution of the organ that allows the creatures to swim at different depths. To change their buoyancy and move up and down in the water, fish inflate an internal organ called the swim bladder. Some fish, such as herring, must surface and gulp air in order to fill their swim bladders with oxygen. Other fish, which are able to submerge for much longer periods and thus reach greater depths, are able to use oxygen from their blood in order to inflate the swim bladder, thanks to a specific type of protein known as Root-effect hemoglobin.




Unweaving the song of whales BBC - February 28, 2005
For nearly a decade, Cornell University researcher Christopher Clark has been eavesdropping on the ocean, hoping to decipher the enigmatic songs of whales. Using old US Navy hydrophones once employed to track submarines, he has collected thousands of acoustical tracks of singing blue, fin, humpback and minke whales. His bioacoustics lab is now able to pinpoint the location of individual singers, and determine the length of their song. As a result, he's had to redraw the map of whale acoustics. "The range is enormous," explained Dr Clark. "They have voices that span an entire ocean."




Sea Squids Owe Their Glow To Molecule Previously Linked To Whooping Cough Science Daily - January 10, 2005

A molecule that triggers damaging changes in the lungs of children with whooping cough lets a bobtail squid living off the coast of Hawaii acquire the ability to glow, scientists have discovered.




Male Fish Producing Eggs in Potomac River National Geographic - November 3, 2004

Something fishy is happening in the headwaters of the Potomac River. Scientists have discovered that some male bass are producing eggs - a decidedly female reproductive function. In June 2002 reports appeared of fish die-offs in the South Branch of the Potomac River. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources asked U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to examine fish health in the watershed near the town of Moorefield, about three hours' drive from Washington, D.C.




Fossils Show How Whales Evolved to Hear Underwater National Geographic - August 11, 2004
Starting 50 million years ago, modern-looking whales began to evolve from terrestrial wolflike ancestors. Their transition to fully fledged aquatic behemoths took 15 million years. It is one of the best-recorded examples of an evolutionary transition in the fossil record. A well-preserved series of fossils from India and Pakistan have already helped scientists understand how whales rapidly evolved limbs, teeth, kidneys, and other organs to cope with the pressures of the marine environment.




World's tiniest fish identified BBC - July 24, 2004

The smallest, lightest animal with a backbone has been described for the first time, by scientists in the US. The minuscule fish, called a stout infantfish, is only about 7mm (just over a quarter of an inch) long. It lives around Australia's Great Barrier Reef and has snatched the "world's smallest vertebrate" title from the 1cm-long dwarf goby fish. The infantfish, which is no longer than the width of a pencil, is described in the Records of the Australian Museum.




Pollution 'changes sex of fish' BBC - July 10, 2004
A third of male fish in British rivers are in the process of changing sex due to pollution in human sewage, research by the Environment Agency suggests. A survey of 1,500 fish at 50 river sites found more than a third of males displayed female characteristics. Hormones in the sewage, including those produced by the female contraceptive pill, are thought to be the main cause.




Sea 'dead zones' threaten fish BBC - March 29, 004
Sea areas starved of oxygen will soon damage fish stocks even more than unsustainable catches, the United Nations believes. About 75% of the world's fish stocks are already being overexploited, but Unep says the dead zones, which now number nearly 150 worldwide, will probably prove a greater menace.




Eyeless "Ghost Fish" Haunts Ozark Caves National Geographic - October 29, 2003
"It's almost translucent. It has a whitish look, but really almost no color," said David Hendrix. "It has no eyes whatsoever. It does come across as sort of ghost-like." The creature of which Hendrix, manager of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Neosho National Fish Hatchery, in Neosho, Missouri, speaks is no poltergeist. Rather, it's the Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae).




Single celled organism has been discovered that can thrive at a record-breaking 121 Celsius BBC - August 15, 2003
The single-celled microbe grows at higher temperatures than any other known lifeform, according to scientists in the United States. Strain 121, as it is known, was extracted from water gushing from super-hot springs at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. These hydothermal vents, warmed by molten rock deep within the Earth's crust, teem with strange lifeforms, such as tubeworms and huge clams. The microbe, about a hundred times smaller than a grain of sand, belongs to an ancient group of bacteria-like organisms known as archae.




Whale-Size Mystery Creature Washes Ashore in Chile National Geographic - July 3, 2003
A mysterious, 41-foot-long and 19-foot-wide (12.4-meters by 5.4-meters)gelatinous mass of flesh washed ashore in southern Chile serves as reminder that the sea may be full of creatures yet discovered by humankind. The creature was first thought to be a dead whale when it appeared last week on the coast near the town of Puerto Montt, but scientists who went to inspect the creature determined it was an invertebrate, or spineless, creature




Giant sea fossil unearthed BBC - December 30, 2002

A complete skeleton of the biggest reptile that ever existed has been unearthed in Mexico. The fossilized bones have been identified as those of Liopleurodon ferox, a fierce predator that ruled the oceans about 150 million years ago.




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