Edinburgh, Feb 19 (ANI): The Census of Antarctic Marine Life has revealed the variety of bizarre creatures lurking in the depths of the Antarctic seas, including spiders the size of dinner plates and fish with anti-freeze to cope with the cold, among 6,000 other species.
According to a report in The Scotsman, more than half the 6,000 species recorded by international teams of scientists have been found to be unique to the Antarctic.
However, warming temperatures and declining sea ice is putting many of the fascinating creatures at risk, scientists warn.
Marine biologist Huw Griffiths, from British Antarctic Survey, is involved in the major study, which has been taking place for five years.
He told The Scotsman that among the most fascinating species were the huge sea spiders.
"They are bigger there than anywhere else in the world. Crabs are missing from the Antarctic, so spiders have taken over their roles, so they have got much bigger. They are usually the size of a finger nail in the Irish Sea, but they are the size of a dinner plate in Antarctica," he said.
He said that they "crawl around with long skinny legs, looking like something from Alien", but are harmless to humans.
Other bizarre creatures include the Ice fish, which due to the high levels of oxygen in the water in Antarctica, have no need for red blood cells.
Instead, they have chemicals that act as anti-freeze, enabling them to cope with the cold temperatures.
Many of the species look like something from prehistoric times, according to Dr Griffiths.
"They look like fossils. You don't have modern predators like sharks or crabs there, so you see things that a paleontologist would have expected to see millions of years ago," he said. (ANI)