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Wrinkled, tentacled “cauliflower” on the ocean floor has biologists baffled

During the expedition, researchers discovered more than a hundred species previously unknown to science, but one of them turned out to be especially curious.

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During the latest deep-sea expedition off the coast of New Zealand, a team from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) explored the Bounty Trench, a mysterious point in the ocean home to hundreds of bizarre animals.

However, one of them literally “confused” biologists, reports the Daily Mail.

In total, scientists discovered more than 100 species previously unknown to science, including dozens of mollusks, three fish, a new species of shrimp, a cephalopod and a new genus of coral.

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But according to expedition co-leader, NIWA marine biologist Sadie Mills, the most surprising creature discovered by the researchers was an animal that looked like a shriveled gray cauliflower.

The team notes that the creature was so strange that they were initially a little confused. This amazing cauliflower-like creature is believed to be a new type of octocoral, a deep-sea organism characterized by polyps with eight tentacles.

Strange new species has scientists baffled. Photo: Ocean Census/NIWA

The team initially theorized that what they were looking at might be a starfish or sea anemone, or possibly another deep-sea animal known as a zoanthid. However, further research showed that this is not the case.

During the deep-sea expedition, many of the experts were extremely excited and intrigued, according to Queensland Museum taxonomist Dr Michela Mitchell. Over time, the team came to the conclusion that they were not just looking at a new species of octocoral, but also a new genus

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What seems even more intriguing is that, in fact, this mysterious creature may actually turn out to be a completely new group, not related to octocorals. If so, it’s an important find for the deep sea, giving scientists a much clearer picture of the planet’s unique biodiversity.

According to the co-leader of the expedition, British marine biologist, Professor Alex Rogers, one way or another, the diversity of life discovered by scientists is very impressive and sheds light on marine ecosystems that we were not previously aware of.

Note that this discovery was made as part of a project that involves an “ocean census.” Scientists plan to discover even more species before the end of the project. The team also notes that the discovery of several species of fish at once was exciting – such discoveries are extremely rare.

The research was carried out on board the research vessel Tangaroa. In total, the team collected about 1,800 samples from depths of up to 4,800 meters along the Bounty Trench.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.