|Image by Ken-ichi via Flickr|
Sea Spiders really are from the sea, pretty much all seas all over the world. The tiniest ones may be about 1 millimetre across and a lot of the smaller ones are found in shallow waters. But Sea Spiders are one of those creatures that do extremely well in really horrible places, so bigger ones can be found in the Arctic and Antarctic, while gigantic ones of some 90 centimetres (3 feet) across reside in the deep sea.
However, what Sea Spiders certainly are not, are spiders. They are currently placed within the subphylum Chelicerata, along with the arachnids and our very own Horseshoe Crab. There is some argument over this, though. Some believe that they are in fact an extremely ancient group that should be placed alongside all other arthropods. For me, they at least look the part. I find it really hard to think of Sea Spiders as being "akin to" or "a bit like" anything else. They seem utterly unique and bizarre to me. I mean, just look at them! They are... legs.
|Image by Vishal Bhave via Flickr|
Some of them also cling on to death, since they can be scavengers. Strangely enough, most of them are actually predators. Sea Spiders typically don't like to move around much, so what could they possibly prey upon? Something that CAN'T move around much, of course! Soft bodied creatures like Sea Anemones, Sponges and worms are their usual. The mouth is at the end of a proboscis, the only notable body part that doesn't look like a leg, and it's used to bite into soft flesh so the Sea Spider can suck up the insides. Surrounding this proboscis are 2 other paired appendages, the chelifores and the palps. These can be used to slice off a tentacle from a Sea Anemone so the Sea Spider can run(?) off with it and eat it at leisure. Such horror! Some Sea Spiders don't even have these other appendages, or they have just one or the other. Legs and a way of feeding the legs, that's a Sea Spider.
I should also mention that some Sea Spiders have up to 4 simple eyes, while others have none. Also, some Sea Spiders can swim! How? They use their legs, naturally. It's not like they have anything else to do it with! And some of them are really quite colourful, others are transparent. All great! I think.
|Image by asbjorn.hansen via Flickr|
I never would have guessed that such a strange animal would have found such a completely different way of being strange in its early life!