The complexiest species of them all

May 29, 2009

“Who’s there?”

“Tiny jellyfish.”

“Tiny jellyfish who?”

“Tiny upside-down jellyfish full of algae eating plankton and making copies of itself.”

“Ohhhhhhh, it’s you, corals! I didn’t recognize you from the sound of how you don’t make any sound. You’re usually too busy doing weird and complicated things underwater to find me at my workplace.” But not today! I’m usually too busy knitting coral reefs out of yarn and watching football highlight videos on YouTube to see what Science publishes, um, ever, but thanks to a tip from Aaron (props, dude), I bring you today’s hot coral news: corals are complicated. No, really, it’s truer than before, and for really interesting reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

Double X: When kvetching kills

May 19, 2009

Latest Double X post:

Whining is universal. From the frantic peeping of baby birds to the whimpering of a kid deprived of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs in the supermarket checkout line, young critters know how to get their parents to feed them. Crying or squeaking or mewing tells the baby’s caretaker that they have needs that must be met NOW!!! But in the case of the European earwig, begging is a fatal miscalculation. Whiny earwig babies don’t get sent to their earwiggy rooms—they get starved to death by their mothers.

Read the rest here.

Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus: The Trailer Released

May 11, 2009

“The California coast is terrorized by two enormous prehistoric sea creatures as they battle each other for supremacy of the sea.”


Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus is an actual film, due out  May 26.

WordPress makes embedding videos from certain sources tricky, so you must click to view the trailer. But click.  Seriously. Do it.

Update: Trailer has been YouTubed. <phew>

Update, Update: As pointed out by commenter below, the movie stars Deborah “Debbie” Gibson. Yes, that Debbie Gibson.

Update, Update, Update: We all know how this movie must end, right?

(via io9)

TGIF: The ocean sure is pretty

May 8, 2009

After a week of running around Arizona and another week of utter grad school madness, things should be a bit more regular around here. In the meantime, relax on this lovely Friday with gorgeous underwater photography from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s 2009 amateur underwater-photography contest, republished by National Geographic. Here’s a few of my favorites.

Pygmy seahorse in Borneo

Male banded jawfish with eggs.

Male banded jawfish with eggs.

The mighty sea pig.

The mighty sea pig.

Sea scorpions SCUBA on land in funny hats

April 15, 2009

Sea scorpions roamed the ancient ocean 500 million years ago. They were kind of like a cross between a horseshoe crab and a scorpion, and could grow to be the size of a crocodile. But these fearsome creatures might have something in common with Victorian ladies and hermit crabs – they might have worn hats (or pants, depending on your perspective) made out of other animals.

Based on uneven sea scorpion tracks, researchers figured out that sea scorpions must have been carrying weight on their left side. From National Geographic:

The odd drag marks could have been from the coiled shells of snails or similar critters, which the ocean-dwelling scorpions stuffed their tails into so they could venture above water, the researchers suggest.

Humid air trapped inside the shells might have protected the sea scorpions’ gills from drying out during brief forays into the open air—like reverse scuba gear.

No word on whether they went shopping with the helmet-shrimp.

You all need to own this T-Shirt

April 5, 2009

Seriously. You can order it here.

[Via io9]

Make your own zombie! (using common household ocean creatures)

April 3, 2009

Miriam invited me to guestblog while she is creeping along the stormy coast of California. So here is my first foray into blogospace, a handy do-it-yourself guide for how to turn your enemies into the walking dead.

VOODOO ZOMBI (makes 1)

  • 1 mortal enemy
  • 1 puffer fish liver
  • gloves, paint brush
  • easy-to-open coffin

Take puffer fish. Wearing gloves, extract liver. With paintbrush, apply liver liberally to enemy. Let sit for a few seconds. Place paralyzed enemy in coffin. Bury. In 12-48 hours, zombified enemy should emerge. If not, don’t get discouraged, just use a little less liver next time.

The secret ingredient in this recepie is tetrodotoxin (TTX to those in the know). The poison is named for the fish in the order Tetraodontiformes (puffers and relatives) where it was first discovered, although it is also made by many other kinds of fish (including lionfish), bacteria, the blue-ring octopus, rough-skinned newts, chaetognaths (yay!), and various other nasty denizens of the damp. For any rabid sushi-eaters out there, this is the substance responsible for Fugu poisoning, which nearly killed Homer Simpson in season 2.

Read the rest of this entry »

A killer proto-shrimp with a funny hat

March 19, 2009

This lovely critter is Hurdia victoria, which terrorized Cambrian seas 500 million years ago. Since being fossilized squished Hurdia into paleo-roadkill, scientists have only just reconstructed it from bits and pieces of the Burgess shale already in museum collections.

Hurdia, a primitive arthropod, was pretty monstrous for the time – up to a foot and a half long. It had a toothy circular jaw with little claws, compound eyes and a giant head carapace. Scientists think it might have lurked along the ocean floor, using its monstrous head to funnel trilobites to their doom.

For more Cambrian freakitude, check out the UC Berkeley’s Meet the Cambrian Critters. I adore their slightly cheesy yet completely awesome flash animations.

Thanks, J.P.!

New Tasmanian comb jelly

March 18, 2009

This lovely comb jelly is a new species discovered in early March by Lisa Gershwin, an Australian marine biologist. Comb jellies, also called ctenophores, are not related to jellyfish – instead of stinging cells they have fine combs or “ctenes” of cilia. The rainbow colors are caused by light refracted off the rows of beating cilia.

According to National Geographic, Dr. Gershwin has discovered over 159 new species in Australia, and wonders “…how many fragile species are out there, right under our noses, that we have overlooked…”

Giant isopods ate my well-known brand of corn chip

March 13, 2009

Unlistenable, yet strangely compelling. Where, indeed, is the kraken? Via the Great Beyond.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.