Saturday, April 3, 2010

'Monster bug' attaches itself to submarine



A bizarre-looking giant crustacean has been found after it latched onto a submarine deep underwater and was dragged to the surface, according to reports.

Images of the 75cm creature — which has been identified as an exceptionally large isopod — have caused a stir online after they were posted on the social media website Reddit.

A user of the website claimed to have received the images from a contractor who worked with him at a sub-sea survey company.

"Recently this beast came up attached to one of our ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicle) … it latched onto the ROV at roughly 8,500 feet (2600m) depth.

"The ship he was operating from (and therefore location) is unknown, so I can't tell you what part of the Earth this beast was living."

The user's vague description of the origin of the photo has sparked concerns it may be just an April Fools' Day joke, but experts claim it appears to be legitimate.

"I've seen the pictures, and they are real, and they really do get that big," Craig McClain, assistant director of science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina, told MSNBC.

"It's an isopod … It's like the [woodlice] that you find in your garden. It's the same group of animals."

McClaim said he had also recently received the same images from a researcher who had been working in the Gulf of Mexico.

"It's definitely not an April Fools' joke," he said.

The isopod, which usually only grows to 60cm in length, is a scavenger that feeds on dead whales, fish and squid and lives in deep ocean waters.

The species was discovered over 100 years ago by French zoologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards.

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