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Image Gallery: Alien Life of the Antarctic

Polar Vessel

(Image credit: Credit: Angelika Brandt)

Three sampling expeditions aboard the German research vessel "Polarsterni" revealed hundreds of new animal species in the depths of the Southern Ocean.

Little Pincher

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

This image shows an isopod (Munna species) discovered in the Weddell Sea.

Pink Worm

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

This pink polychaete worm was discovered in the Weddell Sea.

Sea Urchin Inn

(Image credit: Credit: Susanne Lockhart)

This spindly, cidaroid sea urchin has house guests: sponges, made up of millions of single-celled animals, have attached to the urchini's branches.

Slim Isopod

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

This serolid isopod can flatten its body to increase surface area and keep from sinking into the fine-grain sediment on the seafloor.

Red-Eyed Critter

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

Some of the deep-water antarcturid isopods (like the one shown) have eyes, suggesting they evolved from species that lived on the shallower continental shelf, where light penetrated to the bottom.

Ghostly Swimmer

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

This crustacean (Ischnomesus species) was discovered in the Weddell Sea.

Sea Spider

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

This Munnopsis species found in the western Weddell Sea is a type of isopod, a group of marine invertebrates (animals without backbones). The "deep-sea spider" dines on bits of food that sink to the sea floor.

Sediment Feeder

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

This protobranch bivalve, or animal with a shell that has two hinged valves, gathers bits of food by probing the soft sediment with a thin appendage.

Half Shell

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

This protobranch bivalve, discovered in the Weddell Sea, gathers bits of food by probing the soft sediment with a thin appendage.

Roly-Poly

(Image credit: Credit: Wiebke Brokeland)

Scientists discovered more than 200 polychaete worm species, 81 of which were previously unknown. This Ophryotrocha species, like other segmented worms, has long bristle-like appendages and it feeds on sinking organic debris called "marine snow."