Posted by: The ocean update | August 5, 2015

Study names two new whale-eating deep-sea shrimp species

The Paracallisoma alberti species of Amphipod. Photo by National Oceanography Centre

The Paracallisoma alberti species of Amphipod. Photo by National Oceanography Centre

Like other amphipods, the new species feed on the carcasses of dead marine animals.

August 5th, 2015 (Brooks Hays). SOUTHAMPTON, England — Crustaceans are typically on the losing end in their interactions with whales. But when whales die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, the tables turn.

Like grubs and maggots on land, small crustaceans called amphipods help rid the sea floor of its decomposing flesh.

Recently, researchers at the National Oceanography Centre, in Southampton, England, identified two new submarine shrimp-like species. The new species were discovered off the coast of southwest Ireland, in traps baited with mackerel and descended to nearly three miles beneath the ocean surface.

When researchers retrieved their traps, they found some 40,000 amphipods. There are over 9,500 amphipods species. Now there are two more — one each from the genera Haptocallisoma and the genera Paracallisoma — detailed in the journal ZooTaxa. The two species have been named in honor of renowned taxonomist Roger Bamber.

“I gave the species name ‘lemarete’ to one of the amphipods because it translates from Greek to ‘bold and excellent,’ which is the motto on Roger Bamber’s coat of arms,” researcher Tammy Horton said in a press release. “I chose this name because it is an accurate description of Roger, as well as being a little cryptic. Roger always put a lot of thought into the names he gave species, such as the tanaid species he named after a many-legged creature in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.”

Like other amphipods, the new species feed on the carcasses of dead marine animals, like whales, fish and seabirds. They’re said to be able to strip a pig carcass in just a few days.

“Amphipods are incredibly diverse and adaptable ; there are currently around 10,000 species known to science,” Horton added. “They live in all marine environments, from shallow waters to the ocean’s deepest trenches, on land and in fresh water.”

Citation : HORTON, TAMMY; THURSTON, MICHAEL H.. http://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.3995.1.12/14500. Zootaxa, [S.l.], v. 3995, n. 1, p. 91–132, aug. 2015. ISSN 1175-5334. doi : http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3995.1.12.

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