Take one look at the jellyfish in the above clip, and James Cameron’s reasons for diving into the darkest reaches of the sea will become so much clearer. The world deep below the surface of the ocean isn’t only mysterious and frighteningly sublime, but it’s also home to creatures like this one, which is beautiful, delicate, and absolutely otherworldly. In other words, it’s the perfect inspiration for a weird sea creature in one of the upcoming Avatar movies.
This particular jellyfish, which scientists say is a hydromedusa and belongs to the genus Crossota, was spotted by members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during a currently ongoing exploration of the Mariana Trench (the same Mariana Trench Cameron probed inside of the Deepsea Challenger sub in 2012).
Spotted around the aptly named Engima Seamount area, this little alien-like creature was found hunting for food over 12,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The NOAA says that in the video, which comes via Discover, the hydromedusa’s “long tentacles are even and extended outward and the bell is motionless… [which] suggests an ambush predation mode.” That’s right: this thing is both gorgeous and deadly.
As for its physiology, the NOAA notes that this hydromedusa has two sets of tentacles, one short and one long, which seem to help it simultaneously propel itself and grab at nearby prey. The red lines in its bell are likely “radial canals” that connect those glowing yellow bulbs–which are its gonads.
If you want even more Mariana Trench strangeness in your life, you can check out these spooky and awesome sounds that were recorded in the deep-sea zone just a few months ago. And after that, you can let us know what you think about this bizarre and beautiful jellyfish in the comments section below!