One of the world’s rarest creatures have been sighted for just the third time near Papua New Guinea by an American biologist. Peter Ward, a biology professor at the University of Washington has spotted Allonautilus Scrobilatus 30 years after the species was first spotted.
The sea creature which has outlived the dinosaurs and surpassed two major extinctions were only seen by two individuals worldwide, making it one of the rarest species to live on our planet.
Ward first spotted Allonautilus Scrobilatus in 1984 along with his colleague Bruce Saunders. The creature looked similar to the Nautilus Pompilius species, but it was later found that it was an entirely new species in the Nautilus family.
Also referred to as ‘living fossils’, this species is very old and this finding is very important in the field of biological diversity. “This is kind of like a holy grail, at least in what I do.” Ward said. “It takes a lot of push to put anything in a wholly new and different genus…[and] this is one of the newest animals on the planet.”
“Before this, two humans had Allonautilusseen scrobiculatus,” said Ward, who holds appointments at the UW in both the Department of Biology and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences. “My colleagueBruce Saunders from Bryn Mawr College found Allonautilus first, and I saw them a few weeks later.”
The professor went to Papua New Guinea in July this year to study the animal using the ‘bait on the stick’ system to tempt them to come to surface as they live between 500 and 1300 meters below water.
Unfortunately, they are under the threat of extinction due to illegal mining and fishing problems. “As it stands now, nautilus mining could cause nautiluses to go extinct.” Ward said in a briefing.
“This could be the rarest animal in the world” Ward told reporters. “We need to know if Allonautilus is anywhere else and we won’t know until we go out there and look.”
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