Squamamoeba japonica n. g. n. sp. was isolated and described from marine bottom sediments collected at a depth of ca. 2700 m in the Sea of Japan. Trophic amoebae of this species are elongated and flattened, with a wide anterior hyaloplasm producing numerous ventral subpseudopodia for adhesion to the substratum. The cell coat consists of flat oval scales tightly packed together to form a continuous layer separated from the plasma membrane. Amoebae can form cytoplasmic projections protruding through the scale layer and having tips covered only with the plasma membrane. Small subunit ribosomal RNA gene phylogeny shows that S. japonica forms a long branch in the amoebozoan tree, robustly grouping with the marine strain 'Pessonella' sp. PRA-29. Morphological data available for the latter, although scarce, give additional support for the relatedness of both species. The resulting clade comprising the two taxa shows no close relationships to other Amoebozoa and seems to be a novel lineage that developed an ability to temporarily liberate local areas of the plasma membrane from the cell coat independently from Himatismenida, Trichosida, Pellitida and Dermamoeba.
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