Scary sponges live among us—often at bachelor's pads where dishwashing delays and general hygienic laziness lead to some serious funk.
But those spooky and alien beings have nothing on never-before-described deep sea creatures who made their public debut today.
The most striking things about them: a killer instinct and aggressive appetite for meat.
From the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's report: "Sponges are generally filter feeders, living off of bacteria and single-celled organisms sieved from the surrounding water. They contain specialized cells called choancytes, whose whip-like tails move continuously to create a flow of water which brings food to the sponge.
"However, most carnivorous sponges have no choancytes. As [MBARI marine biologist Lonny] Lundsten explained, 'To keep beating the whip-like tails of the choancytes takes a lot of energy. And food is hard to come by in the deep sea. So these sponges trap larger, more nutrient-dense organisms, like crustaceans, using beautiful and intricate microscopic hooks.'"
The video that came with the historic announcement is fascinating, and a reminder of how little we know about our ocean habitats and its amazing occupants.
For more on recent and unprecedented discoveries deep off the coast of Big Sur, check out David Schmalz's piece "MBARI scientists with an unexpected free day are the first to view underwater ridge."
And enjoy this additional deep sea exploration of wild eyes, also courtesy of MBARI: