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

''Glass Tulips,'' Huge Worms Found off Antarctica
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A diverse ecosystem thrives on the Antarctic seabed, 1,968 feet (600 meters) off the front of the continental shelf.

Here brightly colored coralline bryozoans and sponges create a habitat for other species such as octopus, mollusks, and fish.

Bryozoans have similar calcium carbonate skeletons as tropical corals, though they belong to a different biological group.

Scientists from Australia, France, and Japan collected specimens from up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) beneath the oceans off Antarctica during a two-month census of Antarctica led by the Australian Antarctic Division.

The specimens will be sent to universities and museums around the world for identification, tissue sampling, and DNA studies, the Associated Press reported on February 20, 2008.

"Not all of the creatures that we found could be identified and it is very likely that some new species will be recorded as a result of these voyages," Graham Hosie, head of the census project, told the AP.

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—Photograph by Martin Riddle/Australian Antarctic Division
 
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