A new carnivore shaped like a candelabra has been spotted in deep ocean waters off California's Monterey Bay.
The meat-eating species was dubbed the "harp sponge," so-called because its structure resembles a harp or lyre turned on its side.
A team from the Monterey Bay Research Aquarium Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., discovered the sponge in 2000 while exploring with a remotely operated vehicle. The sponges live nearly 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) beneath the ocean's surface.
"We were just amazed. No one had ever seen this animal with their own eyes before," said Lonny Lundsten, an invertebrate biologist at the research institute and one of the first to see the harp sponge. [The World's Freakiest Looking Animals]
Researchers later collected two sponges and made video observations of 10 more. Comparison with other carnivorous sponges confirmed that Chondrocladia lyra, the sponge's scientific name, was a new species and revealed some interesting insights into the sponge's life cycle. The results of the analysis were published Oct. 18 in the journal Invertebrate Biology. [continue]