Identify the organism that made this pattern

Here’s a new tweet that Matthew sent, showing a pattern found underwater by ROV SuBastian dive #96 (dive #97 starts at 11 a.m. Chicago time, and you can watch it here).  These dives are sponsored by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, and are currently investigating hydrothermal vents around Tonga in the Pacific.

Your job: Guess what kind of organism made that pattern. It’s not a human creation, but a genuine trace left by living organisms. What is it? I’ll put up the answer at noon Chicago time. Paleodictyon trace fossils are of unknown origin, but we’re pretty sure what made this one. You’ll find out in two hours.

Today’s dive looks cool, and here’s the info:

This is the twelfth ROV dive of the Underwater Fire expedition. This dive will visit the known hydrothermal vent field at Mata Fitu volcano, one of the North Mata group of volcanoes. This is the second dive of this expedition at Mata Fitu, but first visit to the hydrothermal vent field.The dive will start downslope of the area of known venting and will traverse back-and-forth upslope to establish the aerial extent of venting. The dive will be a mix of geo-transects to visually explore the area, sample lavas and sediments, and will also do chemical and biological sampling at the hydrothermal vents.

Watch it here in about an hour:


  1. Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    That is pretty amazing. And pretty amazing too that they noticed it!

    No idea on the critter. Looking forward to finding out.

  2. Elizabeth Belyavin
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I may be just revealing that my roots are not in zoology, but rather in Botany! So,sheepishly, I suggest a Sea Urchin .

  3. Janet
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink


  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    It’s the weaver worm Antimacassar teadoilyans

  5. Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Underwater Woodpecker?

    Seriously though, I’d guess the patterns are the remains of a sessile organism like a coral or tube worm.

    Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Obvious. Mermaids

  7. darrelle
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Okay, time to ‘fess up before this get out of hand. I did it.

  8. busterggi
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Paleodictyon trace fossils – hmmm, hexagonal…marine bees?

    just kidding, I’ve no idea.

  9. Joseph O'Sullivan
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    It reminds me of a Chinese checker board. I didn’nt know marine organisms played it. I always thought they prefered backgammon.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 8, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink


      Damn. Beat me to it. Intelligent worms playing checkers.


  10. Liz
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    An osteostracan. benneviaspidida hoelaspis

    • Liz
      Posted December 8, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I don’t think this is right actually. It’s too late. I’m changing my guess to an Anomalocaris. Final answer.

  11. Christopher
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    My immediate impression was perhaps a bryozoan of some sort, it I am quite honestly pulling that out of my nether regions, especially since I realized that Bryozoa, being filter feeders, prefer good water currents and it doesn’t at first glance look like the sediment is very disturbed in the photo. So, it’s a definite hellifiknow.

%d bloggers like this: