Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Honor an invert

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Urochordata

Class: Thaliacea

Order: Salpida

This is a pretty neat animal, which just barely qualifies as an invertebrate. This is a salp, although I am not exactly sure which one. Salps are some of our closest relatives, as they possess several of the same characteristics, including a notocord. They are in the same phylum as the tunicates, or sea squirts, but unlike the tunicates, salps spend their entire life in the plankton.

The thin white band you see running along the bottom of the salp is the gills, which they used to filter feed with. The pinkish-yellow lump on the bottom right hand side is where most of the organs are (intestines and such). On the left hand side are two small orange ovals. These are another creature (amphipods) that are living inside of this salp. They can capture food from the salp's filter feeding current.

Salps can be found as solitary individuals or found in long chains of individuals, and can reproduce sexually and asexually. Their life cycle is rather complex because of this. As solitary individuals, salps reproduce asexually to form a chain. This chain can reproduce sexually with other salp chains. The sexual and asexual forms of the same salp species can look slightly different.

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