A flying "spaghetti monster" swimming off the deep coast of Angola has been taking the scientific world by storm due to its unique and noodle-like features. Many speculations arise following its discovery by the workers of the oil and gas company BP, who also caught the creature on tape.
But what really is this deep-sea creature?
The National Oceanography Center in Southampton, England identified the sea critter as a siphonophore called the Bathyphysa conifer (B. conifer). Siphonophores are related to corals and jellyfish species and are considered "colonial animals." The creatures under this classification are made up of zooids, which are multicellular organisms that develop from a fertilized egg one after the other, forming an extensive network of eggs until a whole new animal is developed. Each individual zooid play a specific role throughout the life cycle; some catch food while others reproduce. Regardless of the function of each zooid, all of them work together and find a way to survive.
The particular species of the deep-sea spaghetti monster is rare, Catriona Munro, a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology at the Brown University told Live Science. Some specimens of the B. conifer have been given descriptions; however, experts do not commonly encounter these creatures inside their usual settlements.
As per the World Register of Marine Species, B. conifer belongs to the suborder Cystonectae, which are typically composed of two body parts, attached to a long stem. The first part of cystonects is the pneumotophore, which is an area filled with gas and resembles a big bubble, locate at the top most part of the creature. Toward the end, where the "stem" is anchored, lies the siphosome. The siphosome contains the group of zooids, which continuously perform its roles for survival. B. conifer is different from other siphonophores as it does not have a nectosome, which pushes the creature through the water. Another distinct characteristic of the B. conifer is its side wings, according to the Scientific and Environmental ROV Partnership Using Existing Industrial Technology (SERPENT) Project, which helped identified the clip taken by the BP personnel.
Here is a video of the flying spaghetti monster:
Photo: serpentproject | YouTube