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IPFS News Link • Underwater Exploration and Living

Bizarre undersea critter: What's a 'Flying spaghetti monster'?

•, By Elizabeth Palermo

It's white. It's weird. It looks like a bowl of noodles turned upside down underwater. What is it? It's a "flying spaghetti monster."

Actually, "it" (the bizarre-looking creature) is Bathyphysa conifer, a deep-sea critter that was recently seen swimming off the coast of Angola. Workers at the oil and gas company BP videotaped this strange-looking animal while collecting video footage some 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) under the sea with a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV). Not knowing what the noodle-armed creature was, the BP crewmembers named it after what they thought it most resembled: the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

But researchers at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, England, later identified the creature as a siphonophore. Related to jellyfish and corals, siphonophores are "colonial animals," according to a website dedicated to these fascinating creatures. The site was created by Casey Dunn, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University in Rhode Island. [In Photos: Spooky Deep-Sea Creatures]