A new plankton species has been uncovered in the Canadian Arctic

For the first time in history, scientists have uncovered a type of Monstrilla plankton in Canada.
By David Sims | Oct 23, 2017
Researchers at the University of Manitoba have discovered a new species of plankton hiding beneath the Arctic ice, a new study in Zookeys reports.

The strange organism -- known as Monstrillopsis planifrons -- measures just a few millimeters long. The odd looking crustacean has one eye and a pair of furry antennae. It is also equipped with an extra set of rear legs that look similar to otter feet.

Scientists first found theMonstrilla family duringthe 19th century. Since that point, over 160 different species have been recorded in different areas of the world. However, the one in the recent study was spotted in the chilly waters of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut during 2014. That makes it the first one discoveredin Canadian waters.

That new territory is important because plankton are at the bottom of the food chain. As a result, they are key for any thriving ecosystem and could shed new light on the wildlife in the area. By knowing that the plankton are in the region, researchers can then make assumptions that could help other studies.

"As a result [of the finding], local and regional species lists are expected to grow as the exploration of under-sampled regions continues," said lead author Aure?lie Delaforge, a researcher at the University of Manitoba, according to Gizmodo.

Not only is the new finding important, but it is also quite lucky. The plankton are only free-floating adults for two months out of the year, and they are quite easy to miss. If researchers were out at any other time they likely would have missed it.

Now that scientists are aware of M. planifrons,they plan to look at how it may affect parts of the Canadian Arctic. The region is still one of the least explored in the world, and the team hopes to see what other secrets hiding in the frozen landscape.

"When we study the Arctic, there are still things we don't know. This is a good example," added Delaforge, in a statement. "I find this pretty cool. It's not an everyday thing, discovering new species and it feels incredible."

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