I know what you’re thinking. Some type of whale, right? If so, you’d be wrong. You’d also assume that length alone would mean that we have known what the longest creature in the world is for quite some time, because how can something that’s extremely long hide? Again, wrong.
The longest creature ever discovered in the entire world was only just discovered in 2020. This fascinating find probably got lost amongst the political, social, and general insanity that has made up this pandemic year of ours. While that may be understandable, this is rather a big deal, so I figured it was blog-worthy.
This creature is called a siphonophore, and it was discovered off the coast of Western Australia, deep in a canyon near the delightfully named Ningaloo reef. It’s 150 feet long. It’s also a predator.
It’s a fascinating creature, because it’s made of thousands of individuals called zooids that clone themselves and string together. It adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “it takes a village”. Siphonophores hunt by dangling poisonous tentacles that paralyze small creatures that come in contact with them.
According to this website, there are 175 different types of siphonophores that we know of, including the Portuguese Man O’ War. Because of their colonial development, most are really fragile and break apart easily. But since the zooids in each siphonophore colony all came from a single fertilized egg, it’s still one creature which has cloned itself so that various zooids have different functions. Pretty freaky, no?
Even more interesting is that the gigantic siphonophore in question was stumbled upon by a research team that wasn’t specifically looking for it. They found so many amazing things on this expedition that this long guy was just the tip of the iceberg. Check out this article, and particularly the second video therein, to see some of the otherworldly creatures they found. Then check out this article for even more details.
If I had my life to do over again, I’d love to be a marine biologist. We’ve barely pierced the depths of the ocean. It’s an exciting unknown, just like outer space, but it’s teeming with weird and wonderful life that is definitely going to be encountered within the next few decades. How exciting!
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