Fossil records show that ancient bryozoans date back as far as 470 million years, long before the first dinosaurs walked the Earth around 230 million years ago.
Th species found in Stanley Park, known as a magnificent bryozoan or Pectinatella magnifica, normally only dwells east of the Mississippi river.
In 2015, a movement was launched by Lieutenant Commander George Mac Kenzie RNR to have the Scottish Ensign officially recognised, on the basis that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1995 permits Her Majesty the Queen in Council or a Secretary of State to approve “any colours consisting of the Red Ensign defaced or modified”.
Bryozoans are often hard to spot because they stick to the bottom of ponds and lakes, where their brown-ish green colour camouflages with the murky water.
Once one of the creatures was spotted as part of a 24-hour 'Bio-Blitz' in which amateur nature lovers were invited to help experts catalogue the park's many species, the lagoon was found to be teeming with them.
Zooids only survive in waters warmer than 15.5°C (60°F), and scientists claim that global warming may be helping the creatures to spread north.
The invertebrates filter feed on algae in nutrient-rich waters, and a spike in their numbers could upset the balance of a freshwater ecosystem.
It is probable that the cross-saltire was adopted by the Scots as a national ensign at a very early period, but there seems no direct evidence of this before the fourteenth century.
The earliest Scottish records were lost at sea in the ship that was sent to return them to that country, whence they had been carried off, with the "Stone of Destiny", by King Edward I (1239-1307, reigned 1272-1307).The zooids stick together for safety in numbers, Ms Stormont said, as a single organism on its own is easy prey.Fossil records show that ancient bryozoans date back as far as 470 million years.Scientists claim that warming global temperatures may have forced the bizarre organisms north of their normal habitat - but they can't be sure.Another theory is that they have always been there, but are simply difficult to spot.They might look like props from a low-budget horror film, but these mysterious slimy brain-like blobs are in fact colonies of hundreds of tiny creatures.