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Raksasa cockroach

Date: 20 July 2020 Tags: Biodiversity

Issue

A new creature has been discovered near the unexplored waters of the Indian Ocean in Bantan, off the southern coast of West Java in Indonesia.

 

Background

The team confirmed the discovery of a new species called ‘Bathynomus raksasa’, a “supergiant” Bathynomus, and which has since been described as the “cockroach of the sea”.

 

Details

  • While being a significant development in the scientific knowledge about the deep oceans, the arrival of the cockroach has triggered excitement mostly on account of the creature’s gruesome structure.

  • The Bathynomus raksasa is a giant isopod in the genus Bathynomus. The giant isopods are distantly related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps (which belong to the order of decapods), and are found in the cold depths of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

  • The cockroach of the sea has 14 legs but uses these only to crawl along the bed of oceans in search of food. The Darth Vader appearance is due to the shape of the cockroach’s head and compound eyes.

  • The Bathynomus raksasa measures around 50 centimetres (1.6 feet) in length, which is big for isopods, which normally do not grow beyond 33 cm.

  • Isopods that reach 50 cm are referred to as supergiants. The only member of the isopod species that exceeds the raksasa in size is the Bathynomus giganteus, which is commonly found in the deep waters of the western Atlantic Ocean.

  • Using techniques ranging from trawling to dredging, researchers studied 63 sites over two weeks and returned with 12,000 of specimens from the deep sea, ranging from jellyfish, sponges, worms and molluscs to crabs, starfish, and urchins. The haul reportedly had 800 species, including 12 that were unknown to scientists.

  • Until now, the scientific community knew of five supergiant species, two of which are found in the western Atlantic. This is the first record of the genus from Indonesia.

  • As a scavenger, Bathynomus raksasa eats the remains of dead marine animals, such as whales and fish, but can also go for long periods without food, a trait that it shares with the cockroach.

  • The raksasa prefers to do its own thing and does not interfere with others. The cockroach of the sea is found in large numbers primarily because most predators are not interested in them.

  • Although some isopods are indeed eaten in some parts of east and south-east Asia, the raksasa has very little meat and a thick shell, and human beings are unlikely to consume them.

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