Little mushroom-shaped things collected in 1986 now have scientific names but no clear place on the tree of life.
Designated Dendrogramma enigmatica and D. discoides, they have what looks like a mouth at the base of a stubby stalk, which widens into a disc smaller than a dime. Researchers hauled them up from Australia’s continental slope but preserved them in fluids that shrank tissues and damaged DNA, making genetic analysis impossible. The mystery organisms resemble, but lack important features of, both comb jellies and the phylum that includes stinging jellies.
Dendrogramma might even deserve their own new phylum, but scientists need more samples, say Jean Just of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues September 3 in PLOS ONE.