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Image Gallery: Mysterious Ocean-Dwelling 'Mushrooms'

Magic mushrooms

Dendrogramma

(Image credit: Jean Just/PLOS One)

These weird creatures are two new species caught 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) below the ocean surface offshore of southeast Australia. A new taxonomic family was created to classify the primitive animals.

Two new species

Dendrogramma discoides

(Image credit: Jean Just/PLOS One)

Dendrogramma discoides, seen here, has a smaller stalk and disc than the other new Dendrogramma species.

An ocean chanterelle?

Dendrogramma side view

(Image credit: Jean Just/PLOS One)

The new species resembles an ocean-dwelling mushroom.

Primitive life

Dendrogramma enigmatica

(Image credit: Jean Just/PLOS One)

Dendrogramma enigmatica, shown here, has a single gut for eating food and excreting waste.

Deep-sea mystery

Dendrogramma enigmatica

(Image credit: Jean Just/PLOS One)

The animals have no stinging cells, tentacles or cilia. The lack of these features prevents a link with true jellyfish and comb jellies.

From the inside

Dendrogramma enigmatica

(Image credit: Jean Just/PLOS One)

An inside view of Dendrogramma enigmatica, after the stalk was sliced in half.

Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.