February 15, 2009--
Spinning a "mucus net" off its paddle-like foot-wings to trap algae and other foods, the swimming snail species Limacina helicinia
is no bigger than a bean. But the discovery that it and at least 234 other species inhabit both Arctic and Antarctic waters is big news to biologists.
Finding so many species inhabiting both Poles "startled" scientists, according to a statement today from the Census of Marine Life, an international project to assess all marine life--past, present, and future--by 2010. Among the other dual-Pole species: whales, worms, and crustaceans.
Exactly where these species came from and how they ended up a world apart--with comparatively warm oceans in between--remains a mystery, the scientists said.
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Photograph courtesy Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life