Purple-winged enteropneust. Photo: David Shale
Scientists first thought that the deep valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a massive undersea mountain in the Atlantic Ocean, was too harsh a climate for life. But when they explored the region down to the depths of 12,000 feet, they discovered a myriad of intriguing species, including this strange purple worm:
Blind, purple, and peculiar, this primitive, deep-sea life-form may be akin to the common ancestor of humans and all other backboned animals, according to scientists.
One of three new species of enteropneust acorn worm discovered during the mid-Atlantic survey, the creature has no eyes, no obvious sense organs, and no brain. "This is about as primitive as you can go," team member Monty Priede said.
But, he added, "they've got a head end and a tail end—the basic body plan of vertebrates." Such living fossils "represent the first mobile animals."
National Geographic has the gallery of new species: Link