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Indian Scientists Discover New ‘Mermaid’ Plant Species

by : Cameron Frew on : 17 Aug 2021 09:08
Indian Scientists Discover New 'Mermaid' Plant SpeciesFelix Bast/Disney

Scientists in India have discovered a new ‘mermaid’ plant species in the Andamans archipelago.

During a trip to the island back in 2019, biologists came across a marine green algae unlike anything they’d seen before. However, it wasn’t as simple as declaring a new discovery there and then – after a long process of nearly two years, they were able to officially name it Acetabularia jalakanyakae.

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It’s the first discovery of a species of algae in the archipelago in nearly 40 years, researchers from the Central University of Punjab said.

The Little Mermaid. (Disney)Disney

‘Jalakanyaka’ translates to mermaid and a goddess of oceans in Sanskrit. ‘The newly discovered species is so stunning. It has caps with intricate designs as if it were umbrellas of a mermaid,’ Dr. Felix Bast, who led the study, told BBC News.

Its mermaid origins are far more overt than you may think, with scientists saying they were inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

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It took scientists more than 18 months to sequence the plant’s DNA and compare it with others in the lab. The new species boasts one large cell with one nucleus, known botanically as ‘coenocytic.’

The new 'mermaid' plant. (Felix Bast)Felix Bast

Amid the damaging effects of climate change, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands hold some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world, home to a huge number of species and plenty of algae. However, with waters becoming warmer and more acidic, reefs are currently under threat from decreasing oxygen concentration in the water.

Should levels drop too low around the Andamans Islands, the new species of algae would struggle to survive. Further findings will be documented by researchers in the Indian Journal of Geo-Marine Sciences.

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: Science, India

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BBC News
  1. BBC News

    Indian scientists discover 'mermaid' plant species