Truly awesome news.

There is no point whatsoever in commenting on yesterday’s Iowa caucuses, or the Republican primaries generally, or even the 2012 presidential race, as Matt Taibbi ‘splains perfectly here.  Those dreary topics are anything but “news.”  However there is indeed surprising news today, my beloved loyal readers!  And it is truly awesome:

A world of previously unseen creatures has been found thriving next to boiling vents of water, several miles under the surface of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. Hundreds of hairy-chested yeti crabs, a mysterious-looking pale octopus and colonies of limpets, snails and barnacles were found by British scientists at a hydrothermal vent located in the ocean’s East Scotia Ridge.

In total, the expedition brought back more than 12,000 samples of rocks, bacteria and animals. [Oxford University lead researcher Alex] Rogers said: “One of the staggering things we did find is that these vents are completely different to those seen anywhere else – the animals existing at these vents are almost all new to science.”

That’s right, people: brand new animals.  A pale octopus, never seen before. Weird little crabs with hairy chests that the team dubbed “Hasselhoffs.” (Hahaha.)  New kinds of snails, barnacles, and Neptune-only-knows what unique species of bacteria.  The researchers have already cataloged two dozen new species, and expect many more discoveries after sifting through sediment samples collected 7,800 feet beneath the cold, watery surface of our astonishing little planet.

Dr Jon Copley, a marine biologist at the University of Southampton who led the exploration of the Dragon Vent and is also an author on the latest PLoS Biology research paper, said that exploration of the world’s deep-sea vents was a race against time.

“The exploitation of the deep ocean is overtaking its exploration. We’re fishing in deeper and deeper waters, oil and gas is moving into deeper waters and now there’s mining starting to take place in deep waters. We need to understand how species disperse and evolve in the deep oceans if we’re going to make responsible decisions about managing their resources.”

In addition:

High concentrations of metals like copper and potentially gold and silver billow from the chimneys, a discovery that has caught the interest of mining companies. Within the next year or so, the first hydrothermal vent mining will likely take place off the coast of New Guinea.

Unless Exxon-Mobil or BHP Billiton can figure out pretty quickly how they can make a colossal fuckton of money by preserving rather than destroying underwater volcanoes and the ecosystems surrounding their vents, our new little friends will almost certainly lose that “race against time.”

In other words:  say hello!  Wave bye-bye!

A pale octopus found in the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica. Photograph: Oxford University/PA

Pale octopus found in the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica. Photograph: Oxford University/PA

This entry was posted in environment, science by Iris Vander Pluym. Bookmark the permalink.

About Iris Vander Pluym

Iris Vander Pluym is an artist and activist in NYC (West Village), and an unapologetic, godless, feminist lefty. Raised to believe Nice Girls™ do not discuss politics, sex or religion, it turns out those are pretty much the only topics she ever wants to talk about.

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