If you’re looking for a reason not to sleep tonight, we’ve got just the thing. Recently, researchers discovered a new species of “sea bugs” that look like something from a sci-fi movie.
While they look like something out of a film, you can actually find them hundreds of feet at the bottom of the ocean. According to scientists, these sea creatures are classified as isopods known as Bathynomus yucatanensis.
Similar to other isopods, they are often mistaken for insects, though they don’t fit into the category. In 2019, these isopods became popular during a viral video of these bugs chomping down on a deep-sea alligator.
According to researchers, the alligator was placed on the sea floor, and less than 24 hours later, the sea bugs feasted on the reptile. Now, scientists are taking a closer look at these sea bugs.
A new study published in the Journal of Natural History in August looked into the Bathynomus yucatanensis and detailed their behavior. The researchers stated that these isopods don’t appear to hunt their prey. Instead, the authors suggest that the bugs behave more like scavengers. However, that doesn’t make them seem any less creepy.
Sea Bugs able to grow over a foot in length
In the study, researchers theorized that these creatures search for leftover corpses of fellow sea creatures that they can easily find. In addition, the minuscule bugs can also eat an entire alligator corpse in just 51 days.
The study also detailed how scientists first discovered these creatures. They are most commonly seen in tropical areas in the deep ocean waters.
Researchers first found them in the waters of Taiwan, off the coast of Pratas Island. The island is located in the northern part of the South China Sea. These sea bugs can also grow up to 1.5 feet long. Because of its whitish color, the researchers say they look like giant pieces of rice floating in the water.
“It is increasingly evident that species of Bathynomus may be exceedingly similar in overall appearance, and also that there is a long history of misidentification of species in the genus,” the researchers wrote in the study.
To the naked eye, misidentifying these bugs is understandable. These isopods scuttle around like your typical bug. However, when you flip them over, you can see their many legs and antennae. These roly-polys’ dorsal sides are also covered in a plated exoskeleton.
The research team also compared the new isopod species to its nearest relatives in the Gulf. They found that B. yucatanensis is slimmer, slightly shorter in length, and has more spines.
The newly discovered species is also yellower than its nearest relatives, which are more translucent white.