Tiny worm-like creature that lives surrounded by metal balls in the depths of the northern Pacific is named after the band Metallica

  • The worm-like creature – called Macrostylis metallicola – is up to 6.5mm long 
  • It lives around 15,000 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean
  • Was named after the band due to the presence of metallic nodules in its habitat  

A tiny crustacean that lives 16,000ft below the surface of the Pacific Ocean has been discovered and named after the rock band Metallica. 

The worm-like creature – called Macrostylis metallicola – is up to 6.5mm long and was discovered in the Clarion Clipperton Zone between Hawaii and Mexico.

It is adapted to survive in the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean, up to 15,000ft (5,000metres) below the surface, and surrounded by manganese nodules – lumps of metallic elements that are several million years old.

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The worm-like creature - called Macrostylis metallicola - is up to 6.5mm long and was discovered in the Clarion Clipperton Zone between Hawaii and Mexico and named after the rock band

The worm-like creature – called Macrostylis metallicola – is up to 6.5mm long and was discovered in the Clarion Clipperton Zone between Hawaii and Mexico and named after the rock band 

WHAT IS MACROSTYLIS METALLICOLA? 

The animal named after Metallica lives in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, situated roughly between Hawaii and Mexico.

It is adapted to depths of 4,132–5,055 meters and over 400 times the pressure of our atmosphere. 

Only up to 6.5 mm long it dwells in absolute darkness without eyes and is colourless.

Its environment consists of manganese nodules –concretions of metallic elements several millions of years old that can be as large as an orange. 

 These contain valuable compounds, such as cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel and rare-earth elements. 

It was discovered by Senckenberg researcher Dr Torben Riehl and his colleague Dr Bart De Smet from Ghent University. 

‘The powerful music of Metallica has accompanied me the majority of my life,’ said deep-sea scientist Dr Torben Riehl of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Germany.

‘Songs such as “Master of Puppets” and “One” are outstanding masterpieces in rock history and I am thrilled to be able to give something back to the band by naming a new species after them!’ 

Only up to 6.5 mm (0.25inches) long it dwells in absolute darkness without eyes and is colourless.

The deep-sea critter survives in a highly specific environment with manganese nodules – small balls of metal that can be up to millions of years old. 

These balls can be up to the size of an orange and contain valuable compounds, such as cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel and rare-earth elements. 

‘The scientific Latin suffix “-cola” translates into ‘inhabiting’ and hence refers to the habitat of the Metallica species,’ explains Dr Riehl.

‘Because of the wealth of resources in this part of the deep seafloor it may soon be mined for minerals needed to meet the growing demand for raw materials.’ 

It is adapted to survive in the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean, up to 15,000ft (5,000metres), below the surface and surrounded by manganese nodules –concretions of metallic elements that are several millions of years old

It is adapted to survive in the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean, up to 15,000ft (5,000metres), below the surface and surrounded by manganese nodules –concretions of metallic elements that are several millions of years old

Only up to 6.5 mm (0.25inches) long it dwells in absolute darkness without eyes and is colourless, the scientists who discovered it found

Only up to 6.5 mm (0.25inches) long it dwells in absolute darkness without eyes and is colourless, the scientists who discovered it found 

Understanding the baseline environmental conditions is important for developing science-based management plans and mitigation strategies to ensure biodiversity as well as ecosystem health and function are maintained.

By naming the new species after Metallica the marine biologist intends to honour the band while simultaneously raising environmental awareness. 

Dr Riehl adds: ‘The continuously rising demand for metals due to population growth, urbanisation and clean-energy technology leads to resource exploration and exploitation even in, until now, scientifically unknown and hard-to-reach parts of this world, such as the deep sea. 

‘Very few people are aware that the vast and largely unexplored depths of the oceans harbour bizarre and undiscovered creatures — much like our new Metallica crustacean.

‘These species are part of the Earth system on which we all depend.’





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