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Mysterious Deep-Ocean Creatures May Help Combat Climate Change

Scientists find tiny new life forms that could be locking carbon dioxide into the seabed. 

When researchers analyzed DNA sequences taken from sediment samples from around the world, they were astonished to find that nearly two-thirds were new to science.

When researchers analyzed DNA sequences taken from sediment samples from around the world, they were astonished to find that nearly two-thirds were new to science.

Photographer: Alessandro Rota/Getty Images

As the deep ocean faces growing peril from climate change, seabed mining and other threats, scientists have discovered that seafloor sediments are home to vast populations of previously unknown organisms that may play a crucial role in carbon sequestration and marine food webs.

When researchers analyzed DNA sequences taken from sediment samples from around the world, they were astonished to find that nearly two-thirds were new to science, representing entire families of undescribed life forms, according to a study published Feb. 4 in the journal Science Advances.