The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Indian territorial possessions several hundred miles west of Bangkok, Thailand. Also known as the Andaman Archipelago, they seperate the waters of the Bay of Bengal from the Andaman Sea. In 2019, scientists from the Central University of Punjab found specimens of a unicellular green algae in an intertidal habitat of these islands. After extensive study and genetic sequencing, in 2021 they were able to declare this plant to be a new species of the genus Acetabularia.
The research team have named their discovery Acetabularia jalakanyakae. In Sanskrit, jalakanyaka means mermaid or goddess of oceans. The name was chosen in deference to Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid”. A. jalakanyakae and similar species are also known as ‘mermaid’s wineglass’, in reference to the umbrella-like cap on top of the stalk. Acetabularia includes a total of thirteen species, which may grow to be anywhere from 0.5 to 10 cm (0.2-3.9 inches) high.
Three distinct parts of this algae’s anatomy are, (1) a rhizoid with short roots, (2) the stalk, and (3) the cap on top resembling an umbrella. However, the astounding thing about this plant is that it is a single-celled organism, possesing one nucleus located in the base. There are larger single-celled species known to science, but A. jalakanyakae has to be one of the most beautiful.
Genus: Acetabularia (Lamouroux, 1812)
Species: A. jalakanyakae
Binomial name: Acetabularia jalakanyakae
“Acetabularia sp” (1:10)
“Indian Scientists Discover New ‘Mermaid’ Plant Species || Scoop News” (2:16)