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Australian deep sea researchers find peanut worm, other creatures USA News Today

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Australian deep sea researchers find peanut worm, other creatures USA News Today

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A fish without a face has been found near Australia’s eastern seaboard.
USA TODAY

Scientists already knew Australia was full of weird creatures, but some that were recently discovered in the deep sea off the coast are downright bizarre (and amusing the Internet.)

The month-long Sampling the Abyss expedition, which focused on the unexplored waters off Australia’s east coast, used multi-beam sonar to map out the seafloor as well as examine and capture specimens that inhabit the area, chief scientist and voyage leader Tim O’Hara said on the expedition blog.

“The abyss is the largest and deepest habitat on the planet. It covers half the world’s oceans and one third of Australia’s territory, but it remains the most unexplored environment on Earth,” he wrote.

The voyage uncovered a plethora of new species, including the peanut worm (Spinucula) which caused a bit of a sensation once photos of the interestingly shaped creature surfaced.

The peanut worm got its name from a defensive habit; when threatened, it contracts its head inwards, taking on the shape of the nut it’s named after.

The team stressed that, despite its shape, the peanut worm is not to be confused with the already discovered penis worm (Priapulida).

Other interesting finds from the team aboard the aptly named Investigator include carnivorous sponges, sea spiders, a herd of sea pigs, coffinfish, a dumbo octopus and a whole plethora of other microorganisms.

According to a news release from Museums Victoria, which led the expedition, more than one-third of the species examined were new discoveries.

The crew also conducted a study on microplastics on the ocean floor, the first study of its kind to be done in the area. The team reported finding garbage more than 60 miles from the shore.

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Australian deep sea researchers find peanut worm, other creatures USA News Today

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Australian deep sea researchers find peanut worm, other creatures USA News Today

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