Researchers discover unusual solitary marine species

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Tokyo | Published: July 25, 2016 4:24:53 PM

Researchers have discovered a very unusual zoantharian species on the east coast of Okinawa Island in Japan.

Solitary zoantharian species, such as this one, are known from a scant few reports, and only three species are described, all reported more than 100 years ago from the Indo-Pacific region.(Reuters)Solitary zoantharian species, such as this one, are known from a scant few reports, and only three species are described, all reported more than 100 years ago from the Indo-Pacific region.(Reuters)

Researchers have discovered a very unusual zoantharian species on the east coast of Okinawa Island in Japan.

Generally, most known zoantharians are colonial (hence their common name of ‘colonial anemones’), and many dwell in shallow waters of subtropical and tropical regions, where their large colonies can be found on coral reefs.

But the new species, named Sphenopus exilis, were leading solitary lives, the researchers reported in the journal ZooKeys.

“This report demonstrates how much more research is needed on these understudied ecosystems,” said lead author Takuma Fujii from Kagoshima University in Japan.

“The only reason this species was discovered was that the right person was in the right place at the right time,” said study co-author James Davis Reimer from the University of Ryukyus in Nishihara, Japan.

Solitary zoantharian species, such as this one, are known from a scant few reports, and only three species are described, all reported more than 100 years ago from the Indo-Pacific region.

The new species is much smaller than the other three Sphenopus species, with its polyps measuring approximately three cm in length, the study said.

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