Meet a giant ‘Darth Vader’ crustacean from the dark side of the sea

Ventral and dorsal view of the feminine Bathynomus raksasa isopod.

Nationwide College of Singapore

If you happen to spot a big crustacean, you may as properly nickname it after one of the crucial feared Star Wars villains within the galaxy — Darth Vader. A newly described species of isopod is among the largest specimens scientists have lately noticed.

Formally named Bathynomus raksasa, the brand new isopod turned up within the Indian Ocean close to Indonesia. This marks the primary time the genus Bathynomus has been collected in Indonesian waters. The specimens had been found at a depth of between 3,116 ft (950 meters) and 4,133 ft (1,260 meters) 

Whereas most deep-sea isopods are often slightly over 3/eight inches (10 millimeters) in size, this extra-large Bathynomus raksasa isopod measures about 13 inches (330 millimeters) in size. It is the primary new large isopod species to be described in additional than 10 years, in accordance with a new study published within the journal ZooKeys.

Scientists from the National University of Singapore and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences revealed their findings on the brand new large isopod species (each female and male specimens) that had been initially collected off the southern coast of West Java in Indonesia throughout a joint deep-sea biodiversity expedition in 2018.

“Throughout an expedition, there are some animals which you discover unexpectedly, whereas there are others that you simply hope to seek out,” Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum posted on Instagram. “One of many animals that we hoped to seek out was a deep-sea cockroach affectionately generally known as Darth Vader Isopod. The employees on our expedition crew couldn’t include their pleasure once they lastly noticed one, holding it triumphantly within the air.”

Whereas scientists estimate there are around 10,000 species of isopods, all share frequent traits corresponding to compound eyes, antennae, 4 units of jaws and a segmented physique that has seven sections with legs connected to every part.

Beforehand, scientists have seen massive isopods ripping apart and eating anything in their path, together with a well-placed alligator corpse in a current experiment.


This is the entrance view of Bathynomus raksasa, a brand new species of large isopod. 

Nationwide College of Singapore

If that is not horrific sufficient to think about, there are additionally parasitic isopods (nicknamed tongue biters) that eat, after which change, a fish’s tongue with out it figuring out. The isopods additionally management the fish’s mind like a zombie, to assist unfold extra parasitic isopods from fish to fish throughout mating.

“The identification of this new species is a sign of simply how little we all know concerning the oceans,” study co-author and researcher Helen Wong said in a press release. “There may be actually extra for us to discover by way of biodiversity within the deep sea of our area.”

The Bathynomus raksasa isopod was considered one of 12,000 specimens collected through the deep-sea expedition.

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Bonnie Burton