I4U News, September 1, 2017 – Mysterious Brain-Shaped Creatures Found In Canadian Lagoon

Posted: Sep 1 2017, 1:13pm CDT | by Hira Bashir, in News | Latest Science News

Credit: Stanley Park Ecology Society

Scientists are not sure what is causing the rapid spread of weird creatures

A number of mysterious, brain-like blobs have been recently found in Canada’s Stanley Park. They are actually small creatures that used to lurk deep inside rivers and lakes. But now low levels of water might have exposed them and caused them to emerge.

The mysterious creatures, called bryozoans, have been around for hundreds of millions of years, long before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. They live in colonies, comprising hundreds of millions of individuals.

An area of Vancouver lake called “lost lagoon” marked the first documented presence of the creature that far north and their presence is a cause for concern.

Once only found in British Colombia, the creature is spreading rapidly across the region and could pose a major threat to the local species. But scientists are not sure what initiated their dispersal.

Researchers from Stanley Park Ecology Society have also examined the specimen found in the lake and describe their appearance.

“It’s kind of like three-day-old Jello — a bit firm but gelatinous.” Expert researcher Kathleen Stormont told Vancouver Courier.

“They’re a colony of tiny organisms that like to hang out together. They have a very ancient lineage that hasn’t changed for hundreds of thousands of years.”

The species found in Stanley Park is called Pectinatella magnifica. Each organism is less than a millimeter in size, but they can clump together to form bigger blobs.

They are believed to have originated in east areas of Mississippi River but they now are traveling to northern region. According to a 2012 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the spread of creature could be tied to climate change. Bryozoans can only survive in warmer water roughly 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Rising global temperatures may have forced them to travel to other areas.

Another interesting thing about the bryozoans is their ability to produce their own light. Their muddy color helps them camouflage in murky waters of ponds and lakes, making them hard to spot.

“It’s something that could have been easily overlooked in the past,” said Ian Walker, a biology professor at the University of British Columbia who has studied bryozoans.

“I think we’re near the northern limit of them. With warming climate, they might migrate somewhere farther north. I can only really speculate how they might have spread.”

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