A 20-second video of an enormous jellyfish with colorful spots and stripes is mesmerizing the internet. A scuba diver took the footage and posted it on Facebook back in December 2021. It got everyone excited as potentially only the second sighting of an animal known as Chirodectes maculatus. But scientists now say it could be an entirely new species. More sightings and study would help figure out this mystery. In the meantime, its pulsing and colorful design is a sight to behold.
We saw the footage thanks to Laughing Squid. Even if it’s not a new species, there’s only one other known sighting of a box jellyfish like this. In 1997, scientists collected a specimen on the Great Barrier Reef. They described and named it in 2005. At the time, they thought a cyclone may have blown a deep water species closer to shore. That would explain why it had never been seen before.
According to ABC News Australia, another jellyfish scientist believes this new sighting is a different species altogether. The scientific community requires a thorough description before accepting new species. It’s possible that as many as 90% of animals living in the ocean have yet to be classified by science. Experts describe new species of jellyfish every year.
Jellyfish and deep sea creatures are often the inspiration for science fiction. Box jellyfish can be quite deadly to humans, some causing death within minutes, so this species may find its way into a monster movie. It looks a lot like the sentinels The Matrix. More recently, the film Nope consulted scientists to design an alien species. As part of the bonus features, fish scientist Kelsi Rutledge painstakingly describes the new species in a mock scientific paper.
Even if this might be a highly venomous jellyfish from the deep, isn’t it exciting to know that there’s still discoveries out there to be made?
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.