- A new creature has risen from the depths of the ocean—and it is a cockroach.
- A team of researchers from Singapore was scouring the unexplored waters of the Indian Ocean in Bantan, off the southern coast of West Java in Indonesia in 2018 when they discovered an animal that seemed to be wearing the helmet of Darth Vader, the epic dark lord of the Star Wars.
- Earlier this month, after two years of study, 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”.
- The scientists reported their findings on July 8 in the peer-reviewed, open-access biodiversity research journal ‘ZooKeys’ [‘Description of the supergiant isopod Bathynomus raksasa sp. nov. (Crustacea, Isopoda, Cirolanidae) from southern Java, the first record of the genus from Indonesia’].
So how evil is the raksasa?
- 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 (just over a foot).
- 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.
- 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.
- Bathynomus raksasa is the sixth ‘supergiant’ species from the Indo-West Pacific, and is one of the largest known members of the genus.
What does the raksasa eat? Can you eat them?
- 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
- 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.