All snails and their ancestors, the Gastropods, share a common feature. We people with fancy Ph.D.’s in biology call this a synapomorphy, a word derived from the Greek words for “together with”, “away from”, and “shape”, namely syn, apo, and morphe. You might think the shell is a common feature of snails, but Gastropoda also . . . → Read More: How the Gastropod Got Its Twist
Recently Chris Mah, that most passionate advocate of all things with pentaradial symmetry (i.e. echinoderms: urchins, starfish etc.), wrote an excellent blog post about how starfish tube feet don’t work the way you think they do. He was right, at least in my case; I had always assumed that they were suckers, and that the . . . → Read More: A sucker for convergent evolution
Starting around 540 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion many animal phyla, including the freshest of them all—bivalves, came into existence. Within ~100 million years, bivalves gained gills modified to filter feed, siphons to better breath, and a muscular foot to bury themselves into the sediment. However, for the last ~400 million years . . . → Read More: Can Bivalves Kick It? Yes they can!
In a remarkable turnaround, Craig directed me to a very cool new study about manta rays (next thing you know I’ll be sending HIM papers about energy availability in the deep sea…). In it, the authors use the birth of a baby Manta alfredi in the Chaurami Aquarium in Japan to study these largest and . . . → Read More: Ever seen a manta ray’s bellybutton?
Brittle stars, a sea pen, and sea cucumber dealing with the lack of energy on the deep-sea floor. Photo courtesy of MBARI If energy is the currency of life then deep-sea organisms are in a long-term recession. Energy comes in three major forms important for life: solar radiation in the form of photons, thermal kinetic . . . → Read More: The Great Recession of the Deep Oceans
Courtesy of Shutterstock Whale sharks won’t be the only big ass vertebrate in the waters off Mexico come August! I’ll be joining Para_Sight and team for the Afuera, the massive aggregation of whale sharks in the Mexican coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea. Admittedly in some regards this opportunity represents a departure from my research . . . → Read More: Why are whale sharks so small?
Courtesy of Shutterstock In Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare a slow-moving but determined tortoise defeats an obnoxious and speedy hare, who decides to nap mid race. The moral of the fable is generally taken that slow and steady wins the race or alternatively over-confidence loses the race. However, perhaps Aesop meant to highlight a . . . → Read More: Understanding How Hares and Big Lineman Lose Races Through Sucking Feet
Like manna from heaven, food from above rains on the deep. Those productive shallow waters full of light, photosynthesis, and food are an extreme contrast to their dark abyssal brethren. With such commodities as nourishment afforded by light absent, any carbon falling to the deep is vital. And more importantly, carbon is never wasted. A . . . → Read More: With a snail’s help a fish transitions from dying to dead
AHHHH! Why are we eating this baby worm? Slurrrrp. Slurrrrp. Mmm…worm juice… (Photo: Terje Berge/International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal) Dear Deeplings, I am a dinoflagellate – a single-celled microscopic plankton of the fine lineage Karlodinium armiger. I’m a pretty peaceful dude-lady – I just chillax on the ocean’s surface, spinning my flagella and soaking . . . → Read More: Dear Deeplings: I thought I was a plant, but now I think I’m a killer!
This is really too good not to share immediately. A recent study reports on numerous pairs of fossil turtle couples caught in the act of copulation. The sex den fossil sight is located in Germany and dates back to the Eocene. How do they know this is male and female in a loving bond . . . → Read More: Preserved in the Act and Fossilized Turtle Whoopie