The two latest additions to the animal kingdom - at least the ones scientists have found - look sort of like mushrooms, if mushrooms were made out of Jell-O and had stomachs running down their stalks.
Called Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides, these animals were collected off the coast of Australia in 1986, some 1,300 to 3,300 feet below the surface of the ocean. After roughly 30 years, the researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, were finally able to determine that there were, in fact, new species in their collection. Although resembling jellyfish in some respects, the scientists say they can't find any evidence of cilia, tentacles or gonads, all characteristics of jellies (though the lack of gonads could reflect immature animals, the scientists say).
These animals aren't just mysterious - they're old, too. According to Jørgen Olesen, a biologist at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, these creatures may "represent an early branch on the tree of life," similar to animals that lived on the ocean floor 600 million years ago.The collected animals, having shrunk a bit after 30 years in an alcohol preservative. (Photo: Just et al.)