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Gruesome-looking 'Darth Vader' sea cockroach found in the Indian Ocean identified as new species

A gruesome-looking ‘Darth Vader’ sea cockroach discovered at the bottom of the Indian Ocean has been identified as belonging to a new species. 

Researchers from Singapore found the frightful, 14-legged creature during a deep-sea survey off of the coast of Banten, Western Java, Indonesia back in 2018.

The animal — whose head and compound eyes resemble the helmet of Star Wars’ villainous Sith Lord — has now been given the formal name ‘Bathynomus raksasa’. 

A gruesome-looking 'Darth Vader' sea cockroach discovered at the bottom of the Indian Ocean has been identified as belonging to a new species. Pictured, Bathynomus raksasa

A gruesome-looking ‘Darth Vader’ sea cockroach discovered at the bottom of the Indian Ocean has been identified as belonging to a new species. Pictured, Bathynomus raksasa

The animal — whose head and compound eyes resemble the helmet of Star Wars' villainous Sith Lord, Darth Vader (pictured) — has now been given the name 'Bathynomus raksasa'

The animal — whose head and compound eyes resemble the helmet of Star Wars’ villainous Sith Lord, Darth Vader (pictured) — has now been given the name ‘Bathynomus raksasa’

The marine survey was conducted by Peter Ng of the National University of Singapore and colleagues, during which they explored 63 sites over two weeks.

The expedition — a collaboration with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences — collected thousands of specimens from the depths using trawling, dredging and various types of seafloor coring devices.

Most of their work was undertaken at a depth of around 0.49 miles (800 metres) — but their deepest sample was taken down at 1.3 miles (2,100 metres) below the ocean’s surface.

In total, the researchers collected 12,000 deep-sea creatures — including crabs, jellyfish, fish, molluscs, prawns, sponges, starfish, urchins and worms — comprising 800 species in total, of which 12 were unrecorded in the scientific literature.

Bathynomus raksasa is a so-called ‘giant isopod’ — a type of crustacean that resembles the cockroaches and woodlice of land, but are in fact more closely related to other marine species like crabs and shrimp.

These ‘sea cockroaches’ live on the ocean bed, scavenging on the remains of dead marine animals that have sank to the sea floor, but are also — like their cockroach namesakes — quite able to survive for long periods without food.

While most isopods typically reach around 13 inches (33 centimetres) in length, some species, like Bathynomus raksasa, can reach up to around 20 inches (50 centimetres) long thanks to lower levels of predation and the cold of the deep-sea.

In fact, B. raksasa is the second-largest isopod species known to science, superseded only by ‘Bathynomus giganteus’.

Researchers from Singapore found the frightful creature during a deep-sea survey off of the coast of Banten, Western Java, Indonesia back in 2018. Pictured, Bathynomus raksasa's head

Researchers from Singapore found the frightful creature during a deep-sea survey off of the coast of Banten, Western Java, Indonesia back in 2018. Pictured, Bathynomus raksasa’s head 

In total, the researchers collected 12,000 deep-sea creatures — including crabs, jellyfish, fish, molluscs, , prawns, sponges, starfish, urchins and worms — comprising 800 species in total, of which 12, including Bathynomus raksas (pic were unrecorded in the scientific literature

In total, the researchers collected 12,000 deep-sea creatures — including crabs, jellyfish, fish, molluscs, prawns, sponges, starfish, urchins and worms — comprising 800 species in total, of which 12, including Bathynomus raksasa (pictured) were unrecorded in the scientific literature

The animal — whose head and compound eyes resemble the helmet of Star Wars' villainous Sith Lord — has now been given the formal name 'Bathynomus raksasa'

The animal — whose head and compound eyes resemble the helmet of Star Wars’ villainous Sith Lord — has now been given the formal name ‘Bathynomus raksasa’

‘The discovery of new species is a great achievement for a taxonomist. especially spectacular species in terms of size and even the ecosystem where the species is found,’ Cahyo Rahmadi of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences told the BBC.

The finds, he added, just go to show how Indonesia’s great biodiversity potential still has yet to be fully tapped.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal ZooKeys

Researchers from Singapore found the frightful creature during a deep-sea survey off of the coast of Banten, Western Java, Indonesia back in 2018

Researchers from Singapore found the frightful creature during a deep-sea survey off of the coast of Banten, Western Java, Indonesia back in 2018








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