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Chinese scientists discover new species that resembles vampire squid in the South China Sea

Chinese scientists have discovered a new species resembling the vampire squid in the depths of the South China Sea. (Photo/South China Sea Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Chinese scientists have discovered a new species resembling the vampire squid in the depths of the South China Sea. (Photo/South China Sea Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Chinese scientists have discovered a new species of vampire squid in the depths of the South China Sea. The creature belongs to a previously unknown cephalopod in the Vampyroteuthis family.

Researchers from the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions recently published a paper in the English-language scientific journal Zoological Systematics.

The vampire squid – Vampyroteuthis infernalis – is currently the only extant species in the family Vampyroteuthidae. However, specimens from the Gulf of Guinea, Africa, and California have suggested the possibility of additional taxa. Here, a second species of Vampyroteuthis was collected from the South China Sea, the paper said.

Qiu Dajun, a researcher at the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained that German marine biologist Carl Chun first discovered the ghost squid in the deep sea in 1903. It usually lives at depths between 600 and 900 meters, where light can hardly reach and the oxygen level in the water is very low.

In September 2016, Chinese scientists collected a specimen from a depth of 800 to 1,000 meters in the southeastern sea area near Hainan Island.

The new species differs from its sister species Vampyroteuthis infernalis by a sharp tail. It is characterized by the following combination of morphological features: a pair of photophores located at the midpoints between the fins and the tail, and a lower bill with a broad, elongated wing, the article said.

Through genetic analysis, they discovered that it was a new species that was genetically distant from the ghost squid in the evolutionary tree. This confirmed that the collected specimen is a new species and the second known extant species of the Vampyroteuthis family.


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