(CNN) — A new deep-sea crustacean that bears a striking resemblance to some from the movie “Alien” has been identified off the Gulf of Mexico.
The bathynomus yucatanensis It is a species of giant isopod, crustaceans that search for food at the bottom of the ocean. Their fourteen-legged, segmented bodies resemble their much smaller relative, the mealybug. The 12-inch-long size of giant isopods has been attributed to deep-sea gigantism, the same phenomenon that drives giant squid to the bottom of our oceans.
A group of Taiwanese, Japanese and Australian researchers set out to describe the new species of giant isopod and distinguish it from the bathynomus giganteus, the giant isopods found in the tropical waters of the western Atlantic. His research was published in the Journal of Natural History on Tuesday.
The researchers collected specimens of the newly identified species off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. By comparing the massive crustaceans to others collected in Taiwan and Hong Kong, they were able to identify distinguishing features such as their creamy yellow color and slimmer body proportions.
DNA analysis also showed that the bathynomus yucatanensis it is distinct from its close relatives. But because the different species are quite similar, the scientists acknowledged that “there is a long history of misidentification of species in the genus.”
And there may be more huge isopods to come: The researchers noted that there may be more undiscovered species in the Atlantic Ocean.