New Discovery Alters Tree of Life

The tree of life is an amazing accomplishment of science but a recent discovering may force scientists to re-think the tree as it stands. This is due to the fact that the newly discovered ‘deep sea mushroom’ doesn’t fit into modern classifications and could be related to groups thought to be extinct for over 500 million years.

**Check out this awesome representation of the tree of life – may take some time to load as its huge!!**

“Finding something like this is extremely rare, it’s maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years, we think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere; the question is where”, said the lead researcher.

To classify the deep sea mushroom, scientists created a new species, genus, and family Dendrogrammatidae. The tiny animals, less than 2 centimeters long when alive, are translucent and look superficially similar to chanterelle mushrooms but the relationship ends there. What looks like a mushroom’s stalk on Dendrogramma has a mouth at the base leading to a digestive canal that fork repeatedly once it reaches a disk, which looks like a mushroom cap.

The Deep sea Mushrooms
The Deep sea Mushrooms

Deep sea mushrooms were a long-time coming. These deep sea mushrooms were dredged up in the Tasman Sea in 1986 at a depth of 400 and 1,000 meters. The mushroom was fixed in preservatives (formaldehyde then alcohol) and brought back to Dr. Just’s laboratory, who is a zoologist at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Here it remained until Dr. Just discovered the deep sea mushrooms for yet a second time.

Dr. Moroz, a neurobiologist at the University of Florida, says the deep sea mushrooms could “Completely reshape the tree of life, and even our understanding of how animals evolved, how neurosystems evolved, how different tissues evolved, It could rewrite whole textbooks in zoology”.

We have said it before and we will say it again, the human race has explored fives fifths of (insert expletive) all of our oceans (Around 2%) and if we really sat down explored them properly we would have to re-write more than a few textbooks.

Stay Curious – C.Costigan

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