Troy University grad student discovers a new species of mud dragon

What started out as a research for a thesis became a discovery.

Madison Kennedy has been working on her marine biology thesis by studying mud dragons, microscopic animals that live in the bottom of the ocean.

While she was studying these creatures she discovered that a few of them appeared to be different from others she had seen.

“They’re very distinct under the stereo microscope,” says Kennedy. “So when you’re looking for them they kind of have a retraction of segments 10 and 11 into segment nine. So they’re very smaller there are also no spines on the back. They don’t have a lot of those cuticular features that you’ll see on a lot of the other species that are native to the area.

Kennedy discovered echinoderes zacharyi in the Gulf of Mexico.

You might notice that the mud dragon has an interesting name with echinoderes being the genus and zacharyi coming from Kennedy’s brother.

“He had the most infectious and charismatic personality,” says Kennedy. “He was basically my twin but he was two years younger than me. So growing up he was just always my missing link and we just had a very good relationship.”

Kennedy’s brother Zachary passed away from Ewing Sarcoma, a rare kind of bone cancer, when Kennedy started her first semester of grad school.

“I want to carry on his legacy and I want to be able to bring him in because he is missing now I want to be able to carry his legacy and continue talking about him,” says Kennedy. “And what better way to keep his memory alive than naming something that will go far beyond our lives.”

For the full story watch Cailey’s report.