Scientists have just made a startling discovery in New Zealand’s Pāuatahanui Inlet. They have found 26 brand-new worm species living in the waters! These new worms are called roundworms, or nematodes, and they are super tiny – only about 1mm long!
The scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) took samples from the inlet for five whole years before finding these amazing new species. They were shocked to find out that nematodes make up almost 40% of the inlet’s known biodiversity!
Dr. Daniel Leduc, a marine biologist from NIWA, said that he was surprised by the number of marine worms they found. He explained that roundworms are very good at adapting to different environments, which makes them one of the most successful animal groups.
The scientists also found 29 other nematode species that had never been seen in the area before, or even in all of New Zealand! They chose to study the inlet because it’s ecologically important and culturally significant. It’s also impacted by humans due to changes in land use and pollution.
Dr. Leduc said that working with worms was really exciting because there is still so much we don’t know about them. “We are still in the discovery phase for this group of animals, meaning we find species new to science pretty much everywhere we look,” he said.
Even though this study only covered a part of the inlet, Dr. Leduc believes that there could be even more unknown nematode species living there. Who knows what other secrets these little worms are hiding!
The study was published by NIWA in its latest Biodiversity Memoir. It just goes to show that even the tiniest creatures can hold fascinating secrets and teach us so much about our world.