Jaws: New Animal Discovered

Isunngua spring
The Isunngua spring where the new organism was found.
Tiny animals, whose body structures are as extreme as their environments, defy current taxonomic classifications, causing scientists to place them in their own category.

Researchers at Isunngua
Researchers at Isunngua - spring, Disko Island, Greenland

A freshwater animal discovered in the frigid springs of Disko Island, West Greenland, puts even the great white shark to shame. With 32 moving parts, the jaw of this microscopic invertebrate, named Limnognathia maerski by it's Danish founders, not only exceeds sharks in its complexity, but any other known invertebrate. While feeding, the animal extends jaw parts from its mouth to grasp the substrate, like two small hands.

Limnognathia maerski
Limnognathia maerski (128 microns in size)

It also has many other unique bodily structures which earned it its own class, "Micrognathozoa." It has three distinct segments, including a head, abdomen, and an accordion-like thorax, which it can extend to become flexible while moving. The animal averages only one-tenth of a millimeter long, or about the width of a very fine blood vessel, making it one of the smallest invertebrates known.

Camp site on Disko Island
Camp site on Disko Island
The discovery adds to a growing number of life forms found in extreme environments, such as scalding hot deep sea thermal vents, where conditions were thought too harsh to harbor life.