Friday, 15 June 2018

'Hobbit' Shrimp with Hairy Feet Discovered Living Inside Hole in Sea Squirt

By Jasmin Malik Chua, Live Science Contributor | June 11, 2018 05:00pm ET

Scientists have discovered a new species of "hobbit shrimp" that shares more than a feature or two with the protagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 children's fantasy novel.

The diminutive size and eight hairy limbs of the critter, dubbed Odontonia bagginsi, recall Bilbo Baggins, the reluctant halfling hero who found a magical ring, dueled giant spiders and plundered the hoard of a centuries-old dragon in Tolkien's "The Hobbit," according to Werner de Gier, a biology student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his supervisor, Charles H. J. M. Fransen, a shrimp researcher at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. The duo recently described their finding in ZooKeys, a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal.

Instead of hiding out in a hole in the ground, however, O. bagginsi lives inside tunicates — marine invertebrates colloquially known as sea squirts — that have sac-like bodies and pairs of tubular openings, called siphons, that draw in or expel water, the researchers said. [Star Struck: Species Named After Celebrities]

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