Extinct Animal Found Alive and Well in New Zealand  

by Janet Fang

A tiny marine animal that was thought to be extinct for the past four million years has just been found living in New Zealand. 

This “living fossil” is tentacled polyp called Protulophila, and they were previously only found in fossil deposits in the northern hemisphere, specifically Europe and the Middle East. Scientists think their history extended back 170 million years into the Middle Jurassic, before they went extinct in the Pliocene; the last trace of them were found in four-million-year-old rocks. 

Paleontologists think that Protulophila was a colonial hydroid (resembling a hydra) that’s related to corals and sea anemones. The animal formed a network of channels and microscopic holes inside the chalky tubes of marine worms called serpulids…

(read more: I Fucking Love Science)

Images: Paul Taylor, Natural History Museum, London (top, middle) & Dennis Gordon and Erika MacKay, NIWA (illustration)

Porpita porpita - Blue Button | ©paulhypnos

A beautiful Porpita porpita photographed in a pool on the rocks, at the Green Island National Park, on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area off the coast of Cairns, Australia.

Porpita porpita is actually a colonial hydroid, not a jellyfish. The hydroids can range in color from turquoise to yellow and resemble the tentacles of a jellyfish. They are often seen in large aggregations, and it is not uncommon for them to be washed up on the beach in large numbers.

These incredible hydroids Found can be found in tropical and sub-tropical Australian, Indo-Pacific, and Atlantic waters.


Cnidaria - Hydrozoa - Anthoathecata - Porpitidae - Porpita - P. porpita

Bathykorus bouilloni

…is a species of Aeginid hydrozoan that is the sole member of the genus Bathykorus. Bathykorus bouilloni is native to the Arctic Ocean and is most common around Greenland and northern Canada. B. bouilloni is a deep water species and is found in waters ranging from 800 to 2,500 m (2,600 to 8,200 ft). Because of this ‘extreme’ habitat it is difficult to study and much is still unknown about its biology and ecology.


Animalia-Cnidaria-Hydrozoa-Trachylinae-Narcomedusae-Aeginidae-Bathykorus-B. bouilloni

Image: Kevin Raskoff


Noble ‘Coral’ (Stylaster nobilis

…a species of colonial Stylasterid hydroid which is endemic to the South African coast from the Atlantic Coast of the Cape Peninsula to Port Elizabeth. Like the unrelated hard corals, noble corals colonies are predatory ans will feed on a variety of plankton which are dispatched by stinging nematocytes.


Animalia-Cnidaria-Hydrozoa-Hydroidolina-Anthoathecata-Filifera-Stylasteridae-Stylaster-S. nobilis

Image(s): Peter Southwood 

Snowdrop Hydroid (Gattya humilis)

…a delicate species of colonial Halopterdid hydroid which is endemic to an area off the south African coast, ranging from Northern Namibia to KwaZulu-Natal. Snowdrop hydroids typically occur from the littoral zone to ~70 m (230 ft) under water, where they are usually found growing on coralline algae or weed. 


Animalia-Cnidaria-Hydrozoa-Hydroidolina-Leptothecata-Plumularoioidea-Halopterididae-Gattya-G. humilis

Image: Seascapeza

Image of the Week - June 24, 2013
CIL:41558 - http://www.cellimagelibrary.org/images/41558
Description: Hydroid collected from kelp sample captured using epi-illumination and an image stack. Honorable Mention, 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Authors: Mike Crutchley and the 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®
Licensing: Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives: This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives License.


Hydroid medusa, against sea lettuce
Photography by Wanderin’ Weeta  

Hydroids (common name) are animals of the class Hydrozoa (Phylum Cnidaria). Almost all have two stages in their life cycles, polyp (also helpfully called hydroid) and medusa.

The hydrozoan medusae are small, free swimming, translucent animals, bell-shaped and having numerous tentacles armed with stinging nematocysts.

OR, if you prefer:

Hydroid Medusas were cybernetically enhanced jellyfish (average length, 22 meters) developed as bioweapons by the Karkarodons of the planet Karkaris during the Clone Wars. [Wookieepedia]

Probably Wanderin’ Weeta, who took the photo, meant the first kind, the ones found in aquariums.  Revised