Brittle star sea ‘dinosaurs’ at risk from commercial fishing, researchers say

Date: January 23, 2019

Source: The Guardian

Species as old as the dinosaurs are swimming around in tropical waters at depths accessed by commercial fishermen, according to a world-first study conducted by Australian researchers.

The study, published in the journal Nature on Thursday, examined data on brittle sea stars pulled from 1,500 research voyages in the southern hemisphere from the equator to Antarctica.

Brittle stars, five-legged alien-like creatures that make up the class Ophiuroidea, are abundant on the seafloor and make an “excellent model for studying patterns across all depths and latitudes,” researchers said.

The study identified a “museum zone” in the upper deep regions near the equator, where ancient species with a long lineage could be found alongside key commercial fishing species.

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