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Churro: Down deep, it looks like fried pastry

ESF Top 10 New Species of 2017


Video credit: Greg Rouse

  • e holotype of Xenoturbella churro a er collection and return to the surface from 1722 meters below the surface in the Gulf of California, Mexico. is is a dorsal view and the animal has been relaxed prior to being preserved, so has lost the muscle tone that gave it a churro-like appearance when on the sea oor
    Photo credit: Greg Rouse

  • frame grab from ROV video
    Photo credit: Greg Rouse

About the Churro

Xenoturbella churro

Discovered deep in the Gulf of California, 1,722 meters (about 5,600 feet) below the surface, Xenoturbella churro is a 10 cm-long (4-inch) marine worm, one of half a dozen species now known in the genus. It is representative of a group of primitive worm-like animals that are the earliest branch in the family tree of bilaterally symmetrical animals, including insects and humans.

Like some of its relatives, X. churro is believed to feed upon mollusks, such as clams. The new species is uniformly orange-pink in color with four deep longitudinal furrows that reminded the authors of a churro, a fried-dough pastry popular in Spain and Latin America. These primitive creatures have a mouth, but no anus, and are a reminder of the amazing biodiversity found in the world’s oceans.

Etymology Named for fried-dough pastry that it resembles, the churro

Type locality Mexico, Gulf of California, Guaymas Transform Fault, near “Pinkies Vent,” 1,722 m deep.

Type Female, Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Description Rouse, G. W., Wilson, N. G., Carvajal, J. I., and R. C. Vrijenhoek, 2016. New deep-sea species of Xenoturbella and the position of Xenacoelomorpha. Nature 530: 94-97.

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