Discovered in the deep: the ‘mermaid’s wineglass’ made up of one giant cell

Helen Scales in The Guardian:

Growing between the tides around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, are clusters of what look like tiny, green mushrooms. In fact, this is a type of seaweed, or algae – each one made from a single, gigantic cell.

In 2021, scientists named them Acetabularia jalakanyakae, also known as the “mermaid’s wineglass”, because of its umbrella-shaped cap.

Prof Felix Bast, a phycologist from the Central University of Punjab, was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale, The Little Mermaid, to give this new species a mythical twist. “I first thought to name it syreni, which is Latin for mermaid,” says Bast. “Then I changed my mind. Why go with Latin? This is from India, and I am Indian.” So he landed instead on the Sanskrit word for mermaid, jalakanyakae.

More here.