Thursday, September 10, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Frosted

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca


Order: Nudibranchia

Family: Tethydidae

I guess all larval animals have a clear, frosted appearance, but I choose this particular larva because it's special to me. This is a veliger larva, a larval stage which is typical to the marine snails. In particular, this is a baby lion nudibranch, Melibe leonina. This larva hatched today, and I am trying to rear them to adulthood.

The fuzzy bits toward the bottom of the veliger is cilia, which helps it swim. The two round dots that look like eyes are actually statocysts, which help the larva figure out orientation (up and down). These guys have a thin shell in the veliger stage, which they lose when they metamorphose into juveniles.

Adult lion nudibranchs live in the kelp canopy, and eat small creatures that live on the kelp or float by. They use their big oral hood much in the same way a Venus fly trap catches flies. Because of the way they feed, they are one of the easiest sea slugs to keep in a public aquarium. They are also one of the few sea slugs to swim.

It will take a little over month before these little veligers metamorphose and settle into the adult form. It will be a welcome challenge to try and keep some of them alive for that long.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Honor an invert

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda


Order: Decopoda

Family: Hymenoceridae

This Crazy looking creature is a harlequin shrimp. These shrimps are found in the Indo and Eastern Pacific waters. They grow to about 2 inches and tend to live in pairs. They can be territorial to other pairs, and patrol their territory looking for their favorite food, starfish.

Because they are so colorful and easy to breed in captivity, they are something of a favorite in the marine pet trade. There are also tons of stories about how they feed, some of which may be due to the shrimp's personal style. The most common strategy is to flip the starfish over and keep it on its back. This may be accomplished by using their large, flattened claws.
Afterward, the shrimps may keep the starfish immobile by eating the tube feet first. There have even been some antidotes of the shrimp feeding the starfish to keep it alive longer.

Despite its popularity as a pet, there seems to be a lack of information about its natural behaviors. One source postulates that these shrimp may sequester toxins from its prey into its body, and this may be why they have such bright coloration [1], but no-one really knows for sure.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Things to watch...

I saw this over at Pharyngula, and thought it was the neatest thing. Many times science videos like these are either oversimplified and boring, or way over my head and boring. I was very entertained by this, and learned something new!

CreatureCast Episode 1 from Casey Dunn on Vimeo.

New Creature casts are definitely somthing to watch for. Their blog is pretty spiffy too.