The ocean covers roughly 71 per cent of the Earth's surface. Yet, a whopping 95 per cent of the sea remains completely unexplored. In fact, it is often said that our planet's oceans currently hold more mysteries than deep space.
In an effort to learn more about our underwater world, scientists have been employing drone technology to explore the depths. And, nearly five kilometres beneath the waves, a startling discovery has been made! In the western Clarion Clipperton Zone, researchers have encountered four new species of single-cell organisms.
Known as xenophyophores, these distant relatives of jellyfish and corals could help scientists better understand the evolutionary link between ocean species. And, these specimens, found by researchers from the U.K.'s National Oceanography Center, and the Universities of Hawaii and Geneva, reveal a wealth of information waiting to be further explored.
Of the four new species discovered, two belong to never before seen genera. One new genus has been cleverly named "Moanammina" after "Moana," the Hawaiian word for ocean. The other was called "Abyssalia" for the abyss-like environment where its discovery was made.
Though you might never have heard of them, Xenophyophores are one of the most common types of large organism found on these deepwater abyssal plains. Despite their apparent lack of life, these depths are home to an incredible diversity and abundance of microscopic species. And, scientists predict that there could still be hundreds or even thousands that remain undiscovered.
As the oceans continue to reveal their secrets, researchers keep pushing forward, exploring new depths and environments that have remained out of reach until recently. Other strange species that have been discovered in these mysterious abyssal zones include a 10-celled parasitic creature that can survive without oxygen.
And, as humanity continues to dive deeper into these unexplored regions of our planet, there's no telling what other weird and wonderful life forms we'll encounter!