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Professor Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen

The new animal Limnognathia maerski

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Copenhagen, 11 October 2000

New kind of animal found in a well in Greenland

Two Danish scientists have found a new kind of animal in a well on Disco Island in Greenland which does not look like any other living creature on Earth. They can therefore now introduce a quite new string of animals and this has only happened three times earlier during the last 100 years. You can read about this in the latest issue of Polarfronten, a magazine issued by the Danish Polar Center.

The two scientists behind the finding is Professor Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen, University of Copenhagen, and Associate Professor Peter Funch, University of Aarhus, who for the first time saw the 0.1 mm big animal under the microscope back in 1994:

- We participated in an arctic biological field course on Disco, where the goal was some proportionally warm, faintly radioactive wells, but one of our students, just for a check up, collected some samples from one of the cold wells that freezes over during winter. And there, in the well Isunngua, we found the animals to the supprise of everyone, Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen tells.

All the living creatures on Earth is after laborious studies classified into about 30 animal strings that all distinguish fundamentally from each other and from animalistic fungis to the string of invertebrates to which human beeings belong.

It is therefore not very often that scientists can present a completely new string of animals. Reinhard Møbjerg has nevertheless now scored a genuine scientifical hattrick, as before his last findings he has already taken part in describing two of the three animal strings discovered in the 20th century so far.

The little creature has been named Limnognathia maerski. Under a microscope it can be recognised on its big, complicated jaws.

urprisingly the little fresh water animal shares common features with animals living in the ocean. The scientists have a theory that Limnognathia maerskis might have been brougt into the cold wells during the last Ice Age, when Disko Island was pressed about 100 meters into the ocean by the enormous ice cap.

The last part of Limnognathia maerskis name has of course something to do with the famous Danish shipping company Maersk and its owner A.P. Møller. The ship Porsild used every year by scientists from Arctic Station had its maiden trip to Mudderbugten (Bay of Mud, ed.) in 1994. On board were both Peter Funch and Reinhardt Møbjerg. Porsild was a gift from A.P. Møller and his wife Chastine Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møllers Foundation for General Purposes.