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Yoda worm brings Star Wars to the deep sea

Yoda sea creatureA worm from an ecosystem far, far away has been named after the Star Wars character Yoda. Yoda purpurata is one of three new species of deep-sea acorn worms discovered 1.5 miles beneath the Atlantic.

Scientists coined the genus name because the large lips on either side of the creature's head reminded them of the Jedi master's floppy ears. The creature is a dark reddish-purple – hence the other part of the worm's name, which is Latin for purple.

The Yoda worm, technically known as an enteropneust, is described in the latest issue of the journal Invertebrate Biology.

A remotely operated submersible collected the specimen during a research mission along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Iceland and the Azores.

Professor Monty Priede, from the University of Aberdeen, said: "Our colleague in California, Nick Holland, the world authority on enteropneusts, chose the name Yoda for the new genus characterised by its large, ear-like lips. There is much interest in acorn worms from the point of view of understanding the early evolution of the vertebrates. Whilst they are not strictly a missing link in our own evolution, they give an insight into what the lifestyle of our remote ancestors might have been like."

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