BERLIN -- A new kind of subatomic particle called the pentaquark has been detected for the first time, the European Organization for Nuclear Research said yesterday.

The lab, known by its French acronym, CERN, said the findings were made by a team of scientists working on the LHCb experiment, one of the four at its Large Hadron Collider.

The existence of penta-quarks was first proposed in the 1960s by American physicists Murray Gell-Mann and Georg Zweig. Gell-Mann, who received the Nobel Prize in 1969, coined the term "quark" for the building blocks that make up hadrons -- subatomic particles such as the proton and the neutron.

Until recently, only hadrons with two or three quarks had been found. In recent years, physicists have seen evidence of hadrons made up of four quarks, called tetraquarks.

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Previous claims to the detection of pentaquarks, containing four quarks and an anti-quark, have been refuted. But experts said the results from CERN, which have been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters, appear credible.

"It is indeed compelling, in part because of the clarity of their experimental data, but also because I can't find a viable alternative explanation," said Eric Swanson, a theoretical physicist at the University of Pittsburgh. -- AP