Scientists study mysterious 'purple sock' sea creature

Scientists Study Mysterious 'Purple Sock' Sea Creature

For roughly 60 years, scientists have been befuddled by where on the 'tree of life' Xenoturbella, a rather mysterious creature of the sea, belongs.

Recently discovered species of the genus, which are described by researchers as resembling purple socks, have significantly cleared up the confusion.

Genetic testing revealed the animal resides on a low, early developing branch.

The 4 specimens that unlocked the discovery were gathered in the Pacific Ocean.

After taking a detailed look at roughly 1,200 of the sea dwellers' genes, the team of researchers concluded the beings were decidedly 'evolutionarily simple.'

Back in the days when only one species was known, classifications and branch placement were less definitive.

The creature was first categorized as a flatworm and then as a simplified mollusk.

In the latter case, there was a bit of a mix-up with the analysis. The DNA of the specimen's recent meal was inadvertently sequenced rather than that of the Xenoturbella itself.

Past examinations also left the question of whether the animal had developed then lost advanced features unanswered.

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