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Scientists have said that a mysterious sea creature with 24 eyes that was discovered in a muddy pond is actually a member of a new species of massively venomous jellyfish.
A new species of box jellyfish, seen with a transparent body less than one inch long and three long tentacles to reach up to 10cm, was discovered in a small pond in Mai Po Reserve, Hong Kong.
The creature also has 24 eyes, equally divided into four groups of six, that are located inside its sensory organs, called “rhopaliums”.
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Box jellyfish are named after their body shape, and have long thin tentacles that release a strong toxin that can cause paralysis, cardiac arrests and even death in just a few minutes.
The new jellyfish’s cousin, the Australian box jellyfish, is widely considered the most venomous marine animal in the world.
The study, published last month in the academic journalZoological Studies, reads: “The class Cubozoa, commonly known as box jellyfish due to the cube-shaped bells, consists of a small group of cnidarians with approximately 50 described species and is well-known to the public for containing some of the most venomous marine animals in the world.”
A team of scientists led by Hong Kong Baptist University observed the jellyfish for three years, finding that more and more were appearing in shrimp ponds at Mai Po Nature Reserve.
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The new species is the only known of its type in the region, leading scientists to name it Tripedalia maipoensis in honour of the reserve where it was found.
“It is currently known only in Mai Po,” said lead researcher Professor Qiu Jianwen, though he said that he and his team believes the species can be found farther afield.
The tiny creature’s discovery is the first time box jellyfish have been seen in Chinese waters, and it is only the fourth species to be introduced to the deadly Tripedaliidae family of box jellyfish.
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