''Glass Tulips,'' Huge Worms Found in Antarctica

''Glass Tulips,'' Huge Worms Found off Antarctica
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February 20, 2008Standing in fields like poppies these tunicates are actually animals.

The tunicates, which resemble glass tulips, are early colonizers of Antarctic regions that have been disturbed by icebergs that scour the seafloor as they pass by.

The animals are among many mysterious creatures collected from the icy waters by scientists of the Australian Antarctic Division. (Watch video of sea spiders found on the expedition, and read the full story.)

The study is part of an international project to take a census of Antarctic marine life.

The plankton-eating tunicates grow up to 3.2 feet (1 meter) long, and filter food by pumping it through an internal mesh structure. The stalk is supported by pressure created by their pump, according to the scientists.

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—Photograph by Martin Riddle/Australian Antarctic Division
 
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