May 08 2012

I want to just cuddle with it

Put this video on full screen and sit back and savor the under-appreciated weirdness found in our oceans.

(If I had to guess, it looks like a deep sea jellyfish to me.)


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  1. 1
    Glen Davidson

    Clearly it’s a person’s spirit during a NDE just hanging out in the ocean.

    Or if not, why don’t they do that? Yay, I’m free of my body, can go anywhere, I’m going off to see the hospital roof…

    Glen Davidson

  2. 2

    hmm, I don’t think jellyfish.

    symmetry seems wrong, plus it appears to have the ability to finely manipulate the edges of the membrane.

    I’m going with a mollusk.

    to me, it looks like some sort of giant pelagic snail, with internalized shell.

    the membrane looks to me like an extended mantle; and is manipulated like I have seen pelagic nudibranchs do.

    still, I can’t recall ever seeing anything quite like it before.

  3. 3

    I saw the reddit comments saying this was a whale placenta…

    hmm, looks reactive to me, with distinct edges, and also a distinct center. Moreover, it has a hexagonal pattern to the membrane.

    I can’t recall ever seeing a placenta with a hexagonal pattern to it.

  4. 4

    The hexagonal pattern mentioned above made me think of fishing net. Are we sure this thing is alive and not just reacting to water currents around what the camera is mounted on?

  5. 5

    How big is it?
    Also, I felt a genuine little stab of sadness when it went out of view of the camera. :( Come back, sea monster!

  6. 6

    Are we sure this thing is alive and not just reacting to water currents around what the camera is mounted on?

    it sure looks like it is reactive to me. would have to be several different artificial currents being generated from different directions, because at 5000 ft, your average natural current is pretty damn slow (like max 2cm/sec).

  7. 7

    The camera-thing itself likely generates strong currents with its maneuvering engines.

    IMHO, the symmetrical squiggly bits near the end sure seem jellyfish-like to me.

  8. 8

    One of the comments at Youtube say it is Stygiomedusa gigantea.

  9. 9

    I have a question for PZ – Sir, have you ever visited the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium? If not, come visit me and see it. It would be “right down your alley”. When my grandson visited, I even paid extra for him to be in The Young Ocean Explorers Club, so that he got to have a scuba diving lesson in the tidal pool behind the aquarium – again, right down your alley – hmmm?

  10. 10

    At about 3:20 I saw Jahsus!

  11. 11




    judge for yourself.

  12. 12

    I don’t know if it’s a jellyfish. I didn’t see any tentacles on it.

  13. 13

    That’s just about the weirdest underwater critter I’ve ever seen! What does it eat? HOW does it eat? There doesn’t appear to be mouth parts. Or is that what the whitish-looking organs are?

  14. 14

    It looks like an animated sheet of softness. I just want to run my fingers over it. What a weird creature…

  15. 15
    jacode bruyn

    According to the youtube comments Reddit eventually figured it out as a

  16. 16
    jacode bruyn

    Dammit, got the anchor tag wrong. Deepstaria enigmatica

  17. 17

    ..well, I was going to guess a supermarket plastic bag, but I haven’t seen to the end yet.
    Is the depth (DPT) really in feet? How retro!

  18. 18
    Chris Booth

    Oooooh! Its an Amorphous Cuttle-Jelly! I saw those on Titan!

  19. 19
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    I wanted them to pull back the view so I could see if it was symmetrical, if it was going in any direction, and such.

    “Deepstaria always seem to have an isopod inside them.”

    So it’s a large gelatinous jellyfish-like thing that closes its bell around its food instead of grabbing it with tendrils.

    Original description.

  20. 20

    The distinctive, regular hexagonal pattern on it makes it seem more like a manufactured object than an animal.

  21. 21
    Atticus Dogsbody

    Look carefully at 1:36 – 1:39. I think we need to call in some ancient alien researchers.

  22. 22

    fascinating! The ROV that shot the images is from that same company that provided ROV support during the Deep Water Horizon spill.
    We spent so much time watching that we had given them all names.
    Here’s a link to an image of their Logo T-shirt that one of our watchers received from them

    The ROV operators were heroes in that disaster. Also, anyone happen to catch the depth there, 5225ft. Zowie!

    One last thought. Given the variety, and incredible weirdness of some life on this planet, when some one claims man was created in po6′s image that’s all well and good. However, when I see something like that I really want to know, WHAT THE FUCK WAS IT THINKING? I can’t believe that an intelligent designer would come up with shit like that (or anything else). Come on, what was the inspiration for that!?

  23. 23
    Rowan vet-tech

    It looks like living fabric. That is one of the most amasing things I have ever seen!

  24. 24
    Christoph Burschka

    I just want to cuddle with it

    It’s a cuddlefish!

  25. 25

    “The distinctive, regular hexagonal pattern on it makes it seem more like a manufactured object than an animal.”

    Look a bit closer – the pattern’s not that regular and a lot of those hexagons are actually pentagons, allowing what would otherwise be a flat sheet to curve.

    Anyway, I very very rarely comment, but I just wanted to say, “That was fucking awesome”. So: that was fucking awesome. Thanks PZ.

  26. 26

    Could be a critter, I guess, but I have to say it looks like a big piece of tripe drifting in a current (prop wash/slipstream from the camera platform?) to me. Remains of a predator’s meal, perhaps?

  27. 27

    I didn’t know Dementors could dive that deep.

  28. 28

    I’m going with the Deepstaria-like jellyfish hypothesis.

  29. 29

    Could it be Pseudorhiza haeckeli? The hexagonal pattern and the protruding “thingy” seem to match some of the photos I’ve seen. The color and depth are off though.

  30. 30

    I greatly admire scientists. Their fascination with the unknown, their pursuit of knowledge. The range of comments here represents a laudible search for truth.
    But as a land animal, I’m just going to go with “AAAAHHHHHH! WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT??!! AAAAIIIEEEEEE!”
    Sorry, but really, that’s all I’ve got.

  31. 31

    Is the depth (DPT) really in feet? How retro!

    Is the date really in traditional American? How retro!

  32. 32
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @carpenterman: You’ll be seeing it in your sleep now.

  33. 33

    Not sure it’s a jellyfish either. Colonial tunicate of some sort? Would be cool if it was something entirely new. The reproductive or digestive organs visible toward the end might possibly be radially symmetrical which could indicate a jellyfish. But the hexagons are just weird, and the motion is weird, and I haven’t a glue. I can imagine bringing somethng like that to the surface intact would be impossible.

  34. 34

    I think we could name it: Pzelususarus

  35. 35

    But the hexagons are just weird, and the motion is weird, and I haven’t a glue.

    The (roughly) hexagonal pattern would actually be consistent with something like Deepstaria enigmatica. I haven’t found really good photographs of Deepstaria, but this one seems good enough to illustrate it:

    The motion is probably unusual because of currents caused by the ROV.

  36. 36

    Yes, it’s got to be Deepstaria or something a lot like it. The hexagonal patterning is what nails it as cnidarian: that’s the nerve net. This thing evidently has a very thin bell (not much mesoglea) and relatively large neurons.
    The whale-placenta idea is laughable.

  37. 37

    @ Ichthyic 3, katkinkat 4, microraptor 20, leeharrison 25, Majst0r 29, sc_d4e1ad9f8b2234f2307517e0f26175a6 33, pentatomid 35

    You are all looking at nerve nets making it either a Cnidaria or a Ctenophora. Since I have never heard of a flat comb-jelly I’m going with really cool jellyfish…

    My summer project involves the evolution of brains :)

  38. 38

    All right, then.

    I freely admit my lack of expertise with cnidarians.

  39. 39

    Commenter Pentatomid, thanks for the great comparison link; The photo of Deepstaria in my Pacific Coast Pelagic Invertebrates book is a screen grab from an older video, so those are a huge improvement. I didn’t initially think it was a jellyfish either, but around 4:46 in the video you get to see the mouth on its long, pendulous manubrium hanging from the center. From the base of the mouth, you can see the extensions of the gut radiating symmetrically outwards, where they meet the gonads (the white masses). This is a great diagnostic to identify it as a jellyfish, whatever the shape of the bell.

  40. 40

    First glimpse and I thought, some kind of monster ctenophore. Watching a bit more, I thought mollusk. Then I wondered if it might be a mondo salp. But then I went back to mollusk, albeit uncertainly.

    Smarter folks than me are making convincing arguments for a determination destination in the land of jellyfish and I’m buying it.

    Whatever manner of beast, it made my day.

  41. 41
  42. 42

    Holy shit, it’s a Cloaker!

  43. 43

    It’s obviously one of the deep sea life forms from The Abyss

  44. 44

    I’m going with an underwater cousin of Black Bag, the Faithful Border Bin-liner of Viz fame, which was in turn a spoof on Black Bob, the Faithful Border Collie of Dandy fame, who was of course a low-rent copy of Lassie :)

    If you don’t know those characters or comics ask your nearest Brit.

  45. 45
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Never thought I’d see a Lethifold.

  46. 46

    “Don’t put your lips on it!”

  47. 47

    You are all looking at nerve nets making it either a Cnidaria or a Ctenophora.

    however, it does not appear to have radial symmetry; looks more bilateral.

    plus, what are the white organs in the center area? look like what I would expect nudibranch gills to look like.

  48. 48

    Another image of Deepstaria enigmatica/a> – I’d say the case seems pretty strong.

    hmm, yeah, that does seem to fit pretty well; it’s just that even in the diagram, that animal looks to have radial symetry, while the one in the vid appears to be bilateral.

    could be just the angles, I suppose.

  49. 49

    where they meet the gonads (the white masses)


    color me convinced then.

  50. 50

    The original description of Deepstaria engimatica from 1967 has good pictures, and comments on the mesh-like pattern.

    Russell, F.S. (1967) On a remarkable new scyphomedusan. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 47 (3). pp. 469-473.

    “The radial canal system is most striking. It consists of a meshwork, likened by Dr Barham to wire-netting. The meshes are elongated radially and the whole system leads outwards to the umbrella margin.”

  51. 51
    A. R

    I’m for Deepstaria enigmatica or D. reticulum. Granted, that’s a virologist’s (admittedly much researched) opinion, so take with a grain of NaCl.

  52. 52

    @livingwithmormons: HA!

  53. 53

    I can’t watch it. I just get a “This video is private.
    Sorry about that” message when I click play.

  54. 54

    I have identified it.

    It is the larval form of one of these:

  55. 55
    Evader, the parasite-infested branch on the evolutionary tree

    Where is Sir Richard Dawkins?!

    Surely he would know what that thing is?

    The hexagonal cells looked really interesting, in fact, everything did. The creature seemed to be putting on a display for the camera.

    Sucks that all movie aliens are stupid f–king “greys”, and not like this crazy mofo. Hollywood, try a little harder… Or at least get Neil deBoss Tyson in on your character design!

  56. 56
    John Phillips, FCD

    A bit late catching up with Pharyngula, but thanks PZ, that made my day, wow, very wow. Oh FSM, how I love this planet.

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