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Metal-dwelling crustacean now a Metallica namesake

This scientist has dubbed his deep-sea discovery Metallica to raise awareness about miners who seek and destroy marine habitats.

metallicola
Anna Frenkel/Senckenberg

When deep-sea scientist Torben Riehl discovered a new wormlike species, eyeless and less than half an inch long, existing in absolute darkness under extreme pressures in heavy manganese nodules some 13,500 feet below the surface of the water, he thought of Metallica. Paying tribute to his rock idols with a play on the metal-dwelling crustacean's habitat, and hoping to raise awareness about the potential effects of deep-sea metal mining, Riehl christened his discovery Macrostylis metallicola. 

The discovery of the mini Metalli-crab is detailed in a study published Thursday in the scientific journal Peer J, along with an examination of the species' high-value environment filled with cobalt, copper, nickel and other rare earth elements. 

"Because of the wealth of resources in this part of the deep seafloor it may soon be mined for minerals needed to meet the growing demand for raw materials," Riehl, who works at Ghent University in Belgium, said in a release. "The continuously rising demand for metals due to population growth, urbanization and clean-energy technology leads to resource exploration and exploitation even in, until now, scientifically unknown and hard-to-reach parts of this world, such as the deep sea."

Even if deep-sea mining can't be stopped, Riehl said, he hopes the new creature will make people aware that such mining has to be conducted sustainably.

Metallica didn't immediately return CNET's request for comment.