In the late summer of 1882, a ship called the Triton cruised the chilly seas north of Scotland. As it went, it dredged the sea bed for specimens of unknown creatures, under the guidance of the oceanographer John Murray.
Two of the specimens were strange enough that Murray sent them to his colleague Henry Brady for examination. They were chunks of sand a few centimetres across, lightly cemented together and filled with a network of hollow branching tubes.
The samples were fragile and had been badly broken, but Brady was able to identify them as a new species, which he called Syringammina fragilissima: "very fragile sand pipe". A better name would have been very fragile sand beach ball, but Brady didn't see the organism underwater.
It turns out that Murray and Brady had discovered the first specimen of an entirely new group of organisms, the single-celled xenophyophores. Shunning the convention that single cells are microscopic, Syringammina is a brute, growing to a width of 10 centimetres – and sometimes even twice that.