Daly doesn't know much about A. pearseae beyond its physical description. She and Gusmo aren't sure how old the creatures are, and say that sea anemones can live for hundreds of years. Nor are they sure how A. pearseae reproduce (each anemone may have male and female sex organs), or if it lives exclusively on whale carcasses.
"So far, a single dead whale is the only place where we've found these anemones," Daly said.
She and Gusmo plan to include A. pearseae in a long-term evolutionary study of genetic relationships among sea anemones. A. pearseae belongs to an extremely diverse group of anemones, Daly said, and comparing the anemones' genetic sequences may clue the researchers in to how the different species evolved over time.