19 July 2020.
Researchers from Singapore have discovered a “Super Giant Isopod” species, a cockroach. This happened when they explored waters of the Indian Ocean in Bantan, southern coast of West Java in Indonesia. The new species has been named “Bathynomus raksasa.”
About Bathynomus raksasa:
- Bathynomus raksasa is a giant isopod in the genus Bathynomus. In general, the giant isopods are distantly related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps (which belong to the order of decapods)
- The species is found in the cold depths of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
- The sea cockroach has 14 legs but uses these only to crawl. It is about 50 centimetres (1.6 feet) in length.
- The Darth Vader appearance is because of the shape of the cockroach’s head and compound eyes.
- Isopods that are in 50 cm length are referred to as Supergiants.
- Bathynomus raksasa are scavengers and eat the remains of dead marine animals, such as whales and fish, but can also go for long periods without food, a trait that it shares with the cockroach.
- The scientists reported their findings on July 8 in the peer-reviewed, open-access biodiversity research journal ‘ZooKeys’
About the Discovery:
- A group of 31 researchers from National Universtiy of Singapore conducted the project.
- During the research 12,000 deep-sea creatures comprising 800 species were collected.
- 12 species new species are not recorded in the scientific literature have also been found.
- The newly discovered creatures included crabs, jellyfish, fish, molluscs, prawns, sponges, starfish, urchins, and worms.
Significance of the discovery:
- Till now, the scientific community knew of five supergiant species, two of which are found in the western Atlantic. This is the first record of the genus from Indonesia.
- “Bathynomus raksasa is the sixth ‘supergiant’ species from the Indo-West Pacific, and is one of the largest known members of the genus.
- The discovery takes the number of known giant isopods to 20.
- Study of Bathynomus raksasa may reveal its role in the marine ecosystem and contribute towards increasing knowledge about the deep sea.