An extensive fault zone at the bottom of the central part of the Pacific Ocean with an area of about 4.5 million square meters. km, known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), is considered a treasure trove of rare metals and minerals. However, scientists recently discovered previously unknown creatures here at a depth of about 5 km.
They belong to xenophyophores (Xenophyophoroidea) - a superfamily of unicellular protozoa - foraminifera. One of the most abundant microorganisms living at extreme depths, they were first described as early as the late 19th century.
The recently discovered species are representatives of a previously unknown genus Abyssalia, named after their habitat - the abyssal zone located at a depth of over 3000 meters. During an expedition in 2018, on board the research vessel RV Kilo Moana, scientists discovered two representatives of the genus Abyssalia - A. foliformis and A. sphaerica in the western part of the CCZ.
Xenophyophores are covered with shells of microscopic adhered particles. In the case of abyssals, their shells consist of a homogeneous spongy mesh without a distinct surface layer.
A. sphaerica is spherical, somewhat dandelion-like, while A. foliformis is flatter and leaf-like.