A second "living fossil" species from the Glypheid group has been discovered by Census of Marine Life on Seamounts (CenSeam) scientists

The Glypheids, a group of crustaceans thought to have gone extinct about 50 million years ago, can now boast two living species. Originally collected in 1906 but not identified until 1975, Neoglyphea inopinata proved to be a fantastic discovery of a "living fossil". Since 1975, new specimens of N. inopinata have been collected. However, in October 2005, a second living Gypheid species was discovered.

Bertrand Richer de Forges, a scientist from the Census of Marine Life on Seamounts (CenSeam) project of the global Census of Marine Life Program, while on an EBISCO (Exploration de la Biodiversité et ISolement en mer du COrail) sponsored research expedition in the Coral Sea, a region off the north-east coast of Australia, aboard the RV Alis, found a strange shrimp in the results of a deep trawl . While this shrimp superficially resembled N. inopinata, Dr. Richer de Forges suspected that it was a new species. Later, his discovery was confirmed by two colleagues in France and Singapore as a new species of the Genus Neoglyphea. Further study of this specimen has led to the suggestion that this may, indeed, be a whole new genus of Glypheid (tentatively named Laurentaeglyphea) as opposed to just a new species.

When compared to N. inopinata, this species, collected in a trawl net at a depth of 400 m on the slope of a seamount , exhibits a spotted coloration and a more stout body shape, among other distinguishing characteristics. While little is known about the specifics of this crustacean's ecology, the discovery of its existence has been compared, in terms of importance, to the discovery of the second coelacanth species in Indonesia in 1998.

Because only a single individual of this species has been collected, little is known of its ecology. However, it is known, from where it was captured, that it inhabits the rocky slopes of seamounts, and that, because of its highly developed eyes and strong pseudochelae, that it is likely a predator. While little is known about this species, scientists suggest that this little shrimp has large implications for marine science. The discovery of this living fossil suggests that the relatively unexplored deep ocean and the isolated seamounts in the deep ocean could act as reservoirs or refuges for species that may not be found elsewhere. Likewise, the fact that this species has had such longevity through million of years with no apparent change can have implications in the fields of genetics and evolutionary ecology.

A full-length article describing Laurentaeglyphea neocaldonica (Richer de Forges) was published in the journal Zoosystema in January of 2006 (Vol 28, No.1, 2006) under the title "Discovery in the Coral Sea of a second species of Glypheid (Crustacea, Decapoda, Glypheoidea)".

Cruise Location: The Chesterfield Islands are located between New Caledonia and Australia in the South West Pacific Ocean.

  • New Species --> of the genus Neoglyphea (New Genus Laurentaeglyphea ?) --> classified as extinct until 1975
  • Who: Discovered by Bertand Richer de Forges (CenSeam) and Philippe Bouchet
  • When: October 2005 (Ebisco Cruise)
  • Where: Southwest Pacific Ocean, Chapel Bank, Chesterfield Islands Seamount Chain, Lord Howe Rise, Coral Sea (24°S, 159°E)
  • How: Collected by trawl --> 400 M water depth
  • References: Richer de Forges, B., 2006. Découverte en mer du Corail d'une deuxième espèce de glyphéide (Crustacea, Decapoda, Glypheoidea). Zoosystema 28(1) : 17-29.