HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new species of deep-water black coral in Hawaii has been identified as the longest-lived marine organism known to date, according to a new scientific study.
Known as "Leiopathes annosa," derived from the Latin word meaning "long lived," scientists --- from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History -- have found that this species can live more than 4,000 years. They can be found at depths of 1,000 to 1,600 feet throughout the Hawaiian islands, including in the protected waters of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
"We know so little about the deep sea that most times we do not even know what to call the species that live there," said Daniel Wagner, PMNM research specialist, in a statement. "Describing and assigning names to new species is an important first step to facilitate future research on these important yet greatly understudied organisms."
This species was previously misidentified as one from the Mediterranean Sea, but was determined to be a distinct species based on a comparison of specimens from Hawaii to those collected in the Mediterranean. Scientists were able to see substantial morphological differences when making the comparison.
Specimens were collected by the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab and were deposited in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. and the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, where they will be available for future studies.
To read the findings in the article published in Zootaxa, click here.