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What Do We Know About the Longest Animal In The World?
Sometime in the second week of April, I came across a video on Instagram, which claimed to be about the world’s longest animal.
No, it isn’t the giraffe – although that’s the tallest. It’s not the blue whale either – this is the largest animal in the ocean.
The longest animal in the world is a newly-discovered animal that belongs to a category of animals called “Siphonophores”.
Say hello to the sea’s longest siphonophore
Siphonophores are Hydrozoans i.e. predatory animals that live in colonies in the world’s saltwater bodies. They have tiny tentacles that stick out of their bodies, which they dangle out into the water. Any unsuspecting sea creature that brushes past these tentacles is instantly paralyzed and starts to sink. The Siphonophores then wrap themselves around the body of the paralyzed animal and consume the animal.
Unlike other animals, Siphonophores aren’t a single organism. They are in fact a colony of multiple deep-sea creatures that fuse together and live as one single unit.
Don’t get me wrong, Siphonophores aren’t a colony of different sea creatures; they’re actually a colony of clones. They’re zooids – animals that arise out of other animals asexually – through the process of division or multiplication. All of the zooids in a Siphonophore are physiologically similar (having been part of another zooid and then separated into a separate entity). They live, breathe, move and eat the same way. These zooids fuse together purely because it’s easier and safer to survive this way.
There are an estimated 175 species of Siphonophores in the world today. The newly-discovered Siphonophore is believed to be the longest of its kind and as-of-now, the longest animal in the world.
Here’s what we know about it:
- The Siphonophore was found off the coast of Western Australia, somewhere deep in one of the island’s underwater canyons, at 630 meters below sea level.
- The creature is an estimated 150 feet i.e. 46 meters long. That’s about 0.8110 times the height of The Leaning Tower of Pisa. In animal comparison, the Siphonophore is twice the length of a blue whale!
- The animal was found floating along the water, probably having been carried upwards from the depths of the ocean because of currents.
- The Siphonophore lay in a spiral-like formation, resembling a gigantic net that had been cast into the deep sea.
- The creature was spotted using a remotely operated vehicle named Sebastian, that had been sent underwater to collect samples of seawater and animals from Western Australia’s as-yet-unexplored and protected deep waters.
Here’s a video of the new discovery:
That’s not all:
The world’s longest animal wasn’t the only discovery made in Western Australia in April 2020; although it was the crowning glory. Scientists also found other creatures like a long-tailed sea cucumber, a giant hydroid, a new species of octopus squid and glass sponges.
This region of the Earth’s waters is a mystery to humanity. No one knows how deep the water goes or what lies at the bottom. For now, there are many not-for-profit organizations who are commissioning deep-sea projects to explore this bizarre and seemingly impenetrable paradise.