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A Rare Shapeshifting Jellyfish Was Filmed With Another Creature Clinging on for a Ride

Scientists saw a... a... thing. It's a plastic bag? The real-life version of a Pac-Man ghost? A monster from the next Guillermo del Toro film?

The deep-sea scientists of the Nautilus spotted a tentacle-less, little-understood jellyfish of the Deepstaria family. It was filmed by the team's underwater recon robot near Baker Island at the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. It's one of the rarest jellyfish known to researchers. 

When the excited team first encountered the jellyfish, it looked a bit like a ghost or an upside-down bag. However, it quickly expanded and shifted its shape into wild, gorgeous patterns. Little is known about the animal, but, as you can see, it expands and twists to capture prey that venture too close to its beautifully amorphous bell.

Another interesting and odd tidbit about the sighting was the bright red spot on the jellyfish's, uh... stomach? Let's go with stomach, even though that's not its stomach. That spot was a red isopod, a type of crustacean that is a relative of the pillbug. The marine biologists in the video called it the jelly's "resident isopod," as this is not the first Deepstaria to be seen with a "resident isopod." However, it's not well understood whether their relationship is symbiotic or parasitic. 

The reason so little is known about the Deepstaria and any roommates it may have is that it hasn't been seen often and lives deep in the ocean. This feller was spotted about 2,500 feet below the surface in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But the current Nautilus mission lasts through October, so maybe we'll get to see more of the Deepstaria and learn a little something about these otherworldly creatures that are not at all from another world.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. He loves the Nautilus YouTube channel. Follow him @dlukenelson.