Living fossils discovered during deep sea expedition off Queensland coast

Date: January 20, 2016

Source: ABC Far North Queensland

Athors: Mark Rigby and Alan Stephen

When a collaborative team of researchers set about exploring the depths of Osprey Reef, off the Queensland coast, they had no idea they would discover living fossils, ecosystems that have remained unchanged for millions of years and marine life thought alien to Australian waters.

PHOTO: A pair of nautilus filmed feeding on the remains of a fish during an underwater expedition to 800 metres below sea level near Osprey Reef, off the coast of Queensland, in 2009. (Supplied: Dr Rob Beaman/MARUM University of Bremen)

In a recently published paper, researchers from Australian and German universities and museums detailed their analysis of the Deep Down Under expedition, which saw a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) sent to a depth of 800 metres in 2009.

Dr Beaman said the underwater environment below the reaches of sunlight was unlikely to have undergone much significant change in the last few million years.

“When you get below around about 450 metres it’s quite a stable environment,” he said. “We know the environment is quite stable because there is this relict fauna, this relict marine life down there.”


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