Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Yoda, but not as you know him

ResearchBlogging.orgA new species of acorn worm has been named after Jedi Master Yoda, the best character in the Star Wars trilogy*. Acorn worms are not true worms. They are more closely related to echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, etc.) than they are to worms. They were once placed as a subphylum of the chordata (i.e. our own phylum), but are now placed within their own phylum, the hemichordata.

Yoda purpurata, the newly described species of acorn worm
The paper described three new species of deep-sea acorn worms in the family Torquaratoridae. Two of which, Allapasus isidis and Tergivelum cinnabarinum, were from previously known genera. But, Yoda purpurata is a new genus and species. It's named after Yoda because the appendages at the head end of the animal are reminiscent of Yoda's ears. All three species were found at about 2.5 kilometers deep on the mid-Atlantic ridge.

*To count as a true Star Wars film, it can't just carry the name. You also have to be able to sit through it without wanting to punch George Lucas. This caveat leaves just three films that can be considered part of the Star Wars canon. And these three films are the originals, not the remakes. 
Priede, I G, Osborn, K J, Gebruk, A V, Jones, D, Shale, D, Rogacheva, A, & Holland, N D (2012). Observations on torquaratorid acorn worms (Hemichordata, Enteropneusta) from the North Atlantic with descriptions of a new genus and three new species Invertebrate Biology, 131 (3), 244-257 DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7410.2012.00266.x

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