The experts' answer to strange sea creatures.
Many Australians have been left searching for answers after a group of mysterious sea creatures appeared on beaches. The strange creature covered in a row of yellow spots led some to say it looked like an alien.
A person who found the sea animal on a beach at Semaphore, about 21 kilometers from Adelaide, posted a photo of it on Reddit in the hope that an expert would identify it. «Found on Semaphore today, can someone ID please?» He wrote.
In the image, the jelly-like figure appears to be folded in on itself and has a slimy, shiny exterior. A marine ecologist, said the strange creature belongs to the class of ascidians that are often found in coastal areas.
Ascidiacea, commonly known as ascidians or sea squirts, is a class in the suborder Tunicata of sac-like marine invertebrates. It is characterized by a hard outer «coat» made of polysaccharide.
«Each of these little yellow dots is an individual animal called a zooid, all of which are genetically identical in the colony,» the user wrote. The creature is a mix between vertebrates and invertebrates, the expert explained.
«Therefore, while it is a marine invertebrate, it is placed in the genus Chordata and constitutes an evolutionary boundary between invertebrates and vertebrates,» explained the marine ecologist. In evolutionary terms they are your very distant, strange cousins that nobody wanted at Christmas lunch.'
The strange creature has a slimy and «fleshy» feel, but it does not resemble jellyfish. Users were quick to comment on the post, with one saying the creature had features that resembled extraterrestrials.
«Alien placenta,» he wrote. «I thought it was a coiled snake,» commented another. «There has to be something to do with this sample and the risk, maybe more than we realize.»
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According to the Australian Museum, the creature's scientific name is Botrylloides leachii. It is a species that belongs to a group called the phylum Chordata, which includes animals such as fish, reptiles and birds. Dark ascidians, which are the most common forms of the species, are found in coastal waters, at a depth of 25 meters, as well as in seaweed and in shallow water.
According to the marine ecologist who commented on the Reddit post, the creatures in question are not harmful to humans.