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"Finding something like this is extremely rare, it's maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years," said co-author Jorgen Olesen from the University of Copenhagen.
He told BBC News: "We think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere; the question is where."
The new organisms are multicellular but mostly non-symmetrical, with a dense layer of gelatinous material between the outer skin cell and inner stomach cell layers.
The researchers did find some similarities to other animal groupings, such as the Cnidaria - the phylum that comprises corals and jellyfish - and the Ctenophora, which includes the marine organisms known as comb jellies. But the new organisms did not fulfil all the criteria required for inclusion in either of those categories.
Dr Olesen said the new animals could either be a very early branch on the tree of life, or be intermediate between two different animal phyla. He conceded that they might eventually find their way into an existing group, because there was still so little known about Dendrogramma's biology.
originally posted by: the owlbear
Something had compelled me to re-read Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" last night.
Talk about a creepy synchronicity.
originally posted by: Yeahkeepwatchingme
Five years from now you'll see them in some fancy restaurant. Boiled then baked in butter with leaks. $150 a plate, one more species exploited by man.