Many of the marine biologists have solved the puzzle of deep sea purple socks. These strange species found on the ocean floor may lend important clues regarding our own evolution.
It often happens that the most primitive of things can lend the most vital clues regarding the most complex issues.
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For a long time, researchers have pondered over purple socks, a creature that defies any definition or efforts at classification. How exactly this creature fits into the scheme of things remained a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Many underwater expeditions have found evidence of Xenoturbella, the bizarre sock-like creature. These curious living entities lie at the roots of the tree of life.
A thorough understanding of animal evolution is necessary to grasp the dilemma these weird creatures pose for marine biologists. The rightful place of this animal in the scheme of evolution is what is at stake here.
This eccentric animal was found more than two generations ago off the coast of Sweden. The interesting thing is that it has no eyes, brain or guts. The food material it ingests enters from the mouth and re-emerges from it later as waste products.
There is nothing very complex about this organism. It is simple beyond the very concept of simplicity. Some scientists have said that it is an early form of symmetrical animal.
Others believe on the contrary that these creatures were complex once upon a time but later on discarded their features and reverted to a simple form of living.
A dozen years ago, the big breakthrough came when a 20 inch species was caught off the coast of California. The scientists who discovered them called these worms purple socks since that is what they resembled. And the name stuck for no particular reason.
The purple socks were called Xenoturbella monstrosa due to their huge size. Three more kinds of this worm-like animal were soon discovered too.
The purple socks were found near deep sea cold seeps, hydrothermal crevices and the abandoned bodies of whales.
Further genetic analysis revealed these creatures to be simple forms of live that evolved near the base of the animal kingdom tree. They have bilateral symmetry.
The matching two sides defined these creatures. So while this being may not have much in common with humans, it shows the same symmetrical plan.
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The study of this species, published in the journal Nature, may just be the beginning of something altogether new.