Although we knowing the deep sea is strange, the “predatory sea mushrooms” still sound like something out of a science fiction movie. However, researchers have just announced the discovery of three new species off the coast of Australia.
Go a few hundred meters deep into the ocean and it starts to look like you’re in a whole new world: from a creature that looks like a starfish crossed with an octopus, to fish that eat sharks, to predatory mushrooms I’ve never seen before.
“It just shows how many of our deep oceans have yet to be explored – these particular mushrooms are quite unique, as they are only found in this particular region of the Great Australian River ̵
Marine fungi are usually multicellular feeders for filters – they have perforated tissues for running water, from which their cells extract oxygen and food. They are quite simple creatures, without a nervous, digestive or circulatory system, but have existed in some form for more than 500 million years.
But predatory fungi are a little different. Some predatory fungi still use the water flow system, while others (such as the three newly discovered species) have completely lost this ability and catch small crustaceans and other prey using threads or hooks.
Researchers in this study found three new species of carnivorous mushrooms – Nullarbora heptaxia,, Acarnidae oxyastri and Lycopodina hystrix, which are also all new genera, as well as closely related species of non-carnivorous fungus, Guitarra davidconryi. All of these species have been found at depths between 163 and over 3,000 meters (535 to 9,842 feet) deep.
“Here we report four additional new species of fungi discovered from the Gulf of Australia, South Australia. The area was recently explored using Smith-McIntyre grabbing and a remote-controlled vehicle (ROV) to photograph and collect marine biota,” the researchers wrote. in his new report.
“These new species are the first recorded carnivorous species from South Australia and increase the number of species registered from around Australia to 25.”
Mushrooms are also prettier than you might imagine, a bit like flowers with their spicy protrusions, but not much like mushrooms.
Carnivorous mushrooms have little time. We have known about them since 1995, but they were discovered much more recently around the world.
“Over the last two decades, our knowledge of the diversity of carnivorous mushrooms has almost doubled,” explains the same team in an earlier article, where they described their discovery of 17 new species of predatory mushrooms.
“[This is] which is due in part to rapid advances in deep-sea technology, including ROVs and submarines capable of photographing and collecting carnivorous mushrooms intact, and to the Herculean efforts of a number of modern taxonomists rewriting many of the older species described in the 19th and 20th centuries. “
Almost every type of carnivorous mushroom found in Australia was discovered during the 2017 CSIRO RV Investigator Voyage trip, showing how important these deep-sea investigations are.
With the ocean floor still largely unexplored, we imagine that we will see many more species of predatory fungi and other strange and beautiful sea creatures.
The study was published in Zootaxa.