In a newly published paper , scientists have identified and named a new genus and species of sponge: Advhena magnifica, Latin for “magnificent alien.”
This new sponge was sampled and seen during missions in the Pacific on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.
On July 25, 2017, while exploring a seamount during the 2017 Laulima O Ka Moana: Exploring Deep Monument Waters Around Johnston Atoll expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, a team of deep-ocean explorers came upon an extraordinary seascape. Dr. Chris Mah of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) dubbed the scene the “Forest of the Weird” due to the diversity of prominent sponges rising up on stalks with their bodies oriented to face the predominant current carrying tiny food particles.
Among the different sponges within this alien-like community was one that could not be missed. Rising high on a stalk, this sponge had a body with two large holes oddly reminiscent of the large eyes of the alien from the beloved movie, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
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Image via NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research