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Creepy-Cute: Japan’s Newly Discovered Species Looks Like Both A Skeleton And A Panda

An underwater cluster of sea squirts that look like skeleton pandas.

In the waters of Kumejima lies a sea creature that’s… weirdly adorable? Japanese scientists have recently started researching the “gaikotsupandahoya,” or skeleton panda sea squirt, after divers discovered the bizarre animal and posted photos online. Affectionately nicknamed by the internet, Japan’s new species has garnered a fair amount of attention due to their oddly endearing appearance. These unique sea squirts have see-through bodies with white blood vessels that look like tiny skeletons, while their black markings resemble little panda faces!

Scientists published their findings on Feb 1, according to WKRC Local 12. This paper on Japan’s new species includes the scientific name for these creatures: Clavelina ossipandae.

“The white parts that look like bones are the blood vessels that run horizontally through the sea squirts’ gills,” says Naohiro Hasegawa, one of the authors. “The black parts on the head that look like a panda’s eyes and nose are just a pattern, and we don’t really know why the pattern is there.”

Internet users everywhere are becoming obsessed with footage of the skeleton panda sea squirt. In fact, many people are comparing their unique appearance to fantasy creatures from video games and anime movies!

“They definitely belong in a Studio Ghibli film,” wrote one commenter on YouTube.

Another added, “Looks like Elden Beast (Elden Ring) and Spirit of the Forest (Princess Mononoke). The glowing ‘ribs’ inside a translucent body is reminiscent of that.”

An underwater cluster of sea squirts that look like skeleton pandas.
Screengrab from YouTube

If there’s one place where you can expect to find new and unusual-looking animals, its underwater. These aptly-named skeleton panda sea squirts are both a little creepy and undeniably cute, which is probably why they’re making such a splash online!

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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