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Supergiant' Crustacean 20 Times Larger Than Usual Surprise Scientists


"...lying among the fish were these absolutely massive amphipods."

Amphipods, a type of crustacean whose body is divided into 13 segments, are generally less than 10 millimeters -- 0.39 inch -- in length. Now, imagine the surprise scientists had when they  found some 20 times that size.

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen have announced finding amphipods so big that drawing the analogy between humans and the Incredible Hulk isn't even a big enough comparison. They're so giant, they are being called "supergiant".

OurAmazingPlanet reports that the "insects of the sea" were found in a deep sea trench off the coast of New Zealand:

"We pulled up the trap, and lying among the fish were these absolutely massive amphipods, and there was no inkling whatsoever that these things should be there," said Alan Jamieson, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and leader of the expedition that turned up the fantastical creatures in November 2011.


"They actually don't feel real," Jamieson told OurAmazingPlanet. "They feel like plastic toys. They have a waxy texture to them."

OurAmazingPlanet notes that the largest of the amphipods found was nearly a foot long.

This isn't the first time amphipods of this size had been found though. OurAmazingPlanet reports that supergiant amphipods were found in the 1980s off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands but little was seen of them since then. When Jamieson's team returned to the same spot in New Zealand a week later, the crustaceans were gone. On the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab website, Jamieson also notes that they had searched the trench twice before without ever seeing the animals.

The team is now trying to figure out if the supergiants they caught are the same as those seen near Hawaii in the 1980s. They will also try to see if there was a selective advantage that caused them to grow so large.

[H/T Gizmodo]

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