More than 25,000 feet underwater, a submersible crawled through the depths of the Philippine Sea.
It was collecting deep-sea creatures to be studied by experts in China, according to a study published Sept. 26 in the European Journal of Taxonomy. As scientists sorted through the finds, they came across five unique brittle stars — and realized they had discovered a new species.
The new species — named Ophiuroglypha fendouzhe after the submersible — is the deepest known species of Ophiuroglypha ever discovered, researchers said. It’s distinguished from similar species by its slender arms, separated arm plates, overlapping scales and uniquely shaped shields.
Scientists said the creamy white specimen has a pentagonal shaped central disc that is covered by large, irregular and polygonal scales that overlap with each other. The creature’s central disc, which is like its body, is about 0.4 inches in diameter.
Ophiuroglypha fendouzhe’s five arms are slender and long, measuring about 2.2 inches, according to the study. Each arm is separated into sections that are covered by arm plates with three to four small, pointy spines. On their upper arms, the creatures have diamond-shaped arm plates.
The brittle stars also have “spearhead-shaped teeth,” researchers said. The species is only known to live in the region where the five specimens were collected.
The Philippine Sea is to the east of the Philippines.