News

Home > News > 【People's Daily】Post-90s Female Scientist Discovers New Marine Species, Names It Patrick Star

【People's Daily】Post-90s Female Scientist Discovers New Marine Species, Names It Patrick Star

April 07, 2021      Author:

Inspired by the American animated comedy television series SpongeBob Squarepants, a female PhD student has given the name from one of the protagonists, Patrick Star, to her newly-discovered starfish species, which was recently shortlisted in a global authoritative database covering names of marine organisms.

Photo shows Patrick Star and SpongeBob from an episode of the American animated comedy television series SpongeBob Squarepants. (Photo/yangtse.com)

Zhang Ruiyan, a PhD student born in the 1990s, is currently studying under a collaboration program at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai and the Second Institute of Oceanography under the Ministry of Natural Resources of China.

Zhang revealed that she first discovered the starfish, called Astrolirus Patricki, in 2013, and had collected four more specimens of the marine species since then. In 2018, she started to authenticate the samples, which were identified as belonging to a new marine species one year later. After referring to a portfolio of relevant works and drawing up a paper on the new discovery, the young woman finally published the new research findings.

Photo shows Zhang Ruiyan, a PhD student born in the 1990s, in her Master's degree graduation gown. (Photo/yangtse.com)

"The discovery of a new species is not about simply collecting the specimens and identifying the new species right away. It requires a standard procedure," Zhang explained, adding that Astrolirus Patricki was discovered in the depths of the northwestern Pacific Ocean at locations 1.4 to 2.1 km below the ocean surface.

According to Zhang, given its outer appearance, the new species bears little resemblance with the Patrick Star of the TV series, as it has a smaller central disc and seven arms which are much more slender than those of the rotund, five-armed cartoon character.

Photo shows Astrolirus Patricki shortlisted in the World Register of Marine Species, an authoritative and comprehensive global database of names of marine organisms, as one of the Ten Remarkable New Marine Species from 2020. (Photo/yangtse.com)

Zhang gave the new marine species the name Patrick Star more as a result of its close association with another species - a benthic sponge, namely, Patrick's best friend SpongeBob in the cartoon. Since all specimens of the new starfish species were found attached to deep-sea sponges, she named it after Patrick to reflect this curious relationship.

Photo shows Zhang Ruiyan posing before her ocean exploration in the Jiaolong deep-sea manned submersible. (Photo/yangtse.com)

In fact, Astrolirus Patricki is not the first new species that Zhang has discovered, but it is the only one that has been shortlisted in the World Register of Marine Species, an authoritative and comprehensive global database of names of marine organisms.

Photo shows Astrolirus Patricki, boasting a smaller central disc and seven arms that are much more slender than those of the rotund, five-armed cartoon character Patrick Star. (Photo/yangtse.com)

From Zhang's perspective, specimens collected during ocean exploration -- whether they are new or already known -- are of equally great significance to scientific research, as they both serve as crucial factors in studying how a regional ecological system functions and how it can be better protected.

Photo shows a specimen of Astrolirus Patricki, a new species of starfish discovered by Zhang Ruiyan. (Photo/yangtse.com)

"Generally, we start from studying the marine species and understanding the biodiversity of a sea area as well as the connection of populations between different sea areas, that is, how organisms migrate in different sea areas," said Zhang, who regards ocean ecosystem protection as the ultimate aim of her current research.

Photo shows Zhang Ruiyan carrying out scientific research in a laboratory. (Photo/yangtse.com)

 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

Source: People's Daily Online