Crocs Uncover

Bizarre Species

martes, 20 de julio de 2010

Surprising Creatures Found Deep off Australia Main Content * A picture of a six-gill shark attacking bait off Australia's Coral Sea, part of a se

Sixgill Shark Attack

Photograph courtesy Queensland Brain Institute

Taking the scientists' bait, a sixgill shark's attack 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) below the surface of the Coral Sea off Australia (see map) is captured in a new video image.

Reaching roughly 13 feet (4 meters) long, the sixgill shark is among deep-sea species never before filmed at such depths, according to the the Queensland Brain Institute, which released the first images from new high-tech remote-control cameras this week.

Often referred to as prehistoric or a "living fossil" because of its resemblance to sharks that lived hundreds of millions of years ago, sixgills are being studied as part of the Deep Australia Project, an ongoing effort to discover the the evolutionary origins of human sight—making the sixgill's night vision of particular interest to researchers.

"This technology will help the discovery of deep-sea creatures' adaptations to the challenges of living at crushing depths and in freezing and dark water," project manager Kylie Greig said in a statement.

"Here they must find food and mates in the dark and avoid being eaten themselves. We are interested in the sensory systems used for this lifestyle."

—With reporting by Dave Hansford in Wellington, New Zealand

Deep-Sea Amphipod

Photograph courtesy Queensland Brain Institute

A deep-sea amphipod—a type of crustacean—stares down a remote-control camera in the Coral Sea in a 2006 Deep Australia Project picture.

Living more than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) below the surface, such creatures must build shells to withstand pressures 140 times greater than those on land, experts say.

Hairy Anglerfish

Photograph courtesy Queensland Brain Institute

A hairy anglerfish was snapped by remote cameras in 2006 as part of the Deep Australia Project.

The long hairs of the anglerfish—which carry sensory information to the fish's brain—could help neuroscientists better understand human physiology, said project researcher Andy Dunstan.

Unidentified Crustacean

Photograph courtesy Queensland Brain Institute

These unidentified, bug-eyed oceanic crustaceans, photographed in 2006, are reminders reminder that humans are not the "pinnacle of evolution," said Deep Australia Project leader Justin Marshall.

"In sensory terms, [that's] far from true," Marshall said.

"By taking an approach to sensory systems based [on] ecology, but [which] also includes physiology, anatomy, behavior, and neural integration, we hope to decode signals and their intention in the animal kingdom."

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