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Developments in Brief : Exotic Beasties Hang Around Undersea Spas

July 06, 1986

An exotic six-sided animal thought to be extinct and a previously unknown type of blind shrimp have been found living near geysers on the Atlantic sea floor.

Just back from an expedition two miles beneath the ocean surface, Peter Rona of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said he also found mysterious blue-white plumes from geysers where only white or black plumes were known before, and saw massive mineral deposits.

The deep-water submersible Alvin was used for trips to the undersea vents about 1,800 miles east of Miami in May and June. Until recently, the vents were thought to exist only in the Pacific.

The previously unknown genus of shrimp seems to live off bacteria growing in the hot water, roaming around the edges of the geysers to eat while trying to avoid being scalded by the 660-degree water, Rona said.

Another find was a six-sided creature about the size of a silver dollar, covered with rows of black dots. Previously these animals had been seen only in fossils more than 70 million years old.

Giant tube worms found near Pacific Ocean vents are not present in the Atlantic, he said, and the shrimp are not found in the Pacific.

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