The ocean depths are the last great frontier to explore on planet Earth. Case in point: A 30-inch deep-sea isopod that surfaced this week.
MSNBC says this of the scary-looking bug, “It may look like a creepy-crawly April Fool's joke — but an expert on deep-sea species says the bizarre giant bug shown in pictures circulating on the Internet is the real deal."
"I've seen the pictures, and they are real, and they really do get that big," said Craig McClain, assistant director of science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina, told MSNBC.
Pictures of the bug appeared on Reddit earlier this week when the creature was hauled to the surface after reportedly attaching itself to a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) near an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Scary as the giant bug appears, scientists have been aware of them for quite some time. The official name of this species is Bathynomus giganteus, and they are commonly found in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, usually around 8,500 feet.
The Bathynomus giganteus may be an imposing giant, but it’s very similar to more commonly encountered isopods, such as rolypolys or pillbugs.
B. giganteus lives on the sea floor and is an important scavenger in the deep-sea environment. The bugs are mostly carnivorous and feed on dead whales, fish and squid. Check out the video below of crabs, eels and giant isopods fighting for the rights to a tuna carcass.