Sunday 29 July 2012

Three Toes for the Olympics

So, the Olympic Games have started in my very own London Town. I never keep track of these things.

In honour of all that human endeavour and achievement and running and jumping and whatever else they do, and for all those who are too lazy for that sort of thing, and for all the contrarians nonplussed by public outpourings of television watching and suspicious of government sanctioned enthusiasm, I bring you this:

Bradypus infuscatus
The Three-toed Sloth.

Hip hip!


Friday 27 July 2012

Acanthacaris caeca

Image: hankplank via Flickr
It's slim pickings in the deep sea. You need only look at the lobsters to see that. There's not much flesh on the exoskeleton!

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Hat-thrower Fungus

Image source
Pilobolus crystallinus
It's the fastest living thing on Earth! And some people like to call it the "Dung Cannon". Hmmm... I don't like the sound of that.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Giant Clam

Image: Mal B via Flickr
Tridacna gigas
It's the biggest, most giant bivalve mollusc in all the world! And it looks like the biggest, most giant pair of lips puckered up for the biggest, most giant kiss!


Friday 20 July 2012

Venus Flytrap Sea Anemone

Image: Aquapix and Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007, NOAA-OE
Man, I love animals that look like nothing more than a great, big mouth! This thing is just a gob on a stick!

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Bearded Fireworm

Image: Philippe Guillaume via Flickr
Hermodice carunculata
Awwwwww! Look how cute and fluffy! I'm gonna call that bit an ear and tickle behind it!



Thus endeth the lesson.

Sunday 15 July 2012

Giant Red-headed Centipede

Image: graftedno1 via Flickr
It's Scolopendra heros! Perhaps the most diabolically well dressed centipede in the world!

Friday 13 July 2012

A Carnivorous Sponge

Image: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010
Oh! The pretty, pretty flowers of the deep, deep sea
Alive in the depths incongruously
I wonder what scents would you have for me?
Do your colours blaze bright with vibrancy?

Alas! Alas! It's not to be!
This brute eats meat like the Ping Pong Tree!
It digests shrimp with heartless glee
There's no honey in the deep, deep sea

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Leaf Curling Spider

Image: docbaty via Flickr
Phonognatha graeffei
It's always a little odd when you see things floating in mid-air. Odder still is when it's someone's house!

Sunday 8 July 2012


Image: Wikipedia
Rhynchocyon petersi
Aaah! The glorious world of great, big schnozes!

No rhinoplasty here, please; these creatures are well adjusted and happy to be brimful of beak. They wouldn't have it any other way!

Some of them are even dependant on their super sniffer for survival, so I hope the surgeon takes a closer look before he starts drawing those weird perforation lines.

Oh. but don't get too close!

Some of these face lances could take an eye out.

Friday 6 July 2012

Polypodium hydriforme

Image: Wikimedia
Free-living stage
Cnidaria are weird. I think we all noticed that. But just think how weird it would be if one of them was a parasite!

Uh oh...

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Brainfever Bird

Image: Wikimedia
This ain't no nightingale. The Brainfever Bird performs a pretty good audio rendition of delirium, though! I guess it depends on whether you prefer Bach or Beethoven.

Monday 2 July 2012

Boneworms and the Teeny Tiny Acid Bath

Image: Adrian Glover, Natural History Museum

Osedax - the murderer's best friend!

These are the bone-eating worms found at the bottom of the world's oceans. They colonise the skeletons of whales that have died and sunk to the depths.

In the strange ecosystem of the deep, these worms act like fungus, breaking down tough material that most other creatures can't.

In this case, they drill into whale bone to get to the fatty goodness whales use for buoyancy. They have no guts or mouth, instead they have a kind of root system and a great bundle of symbiotic bacteria that do all the digestive work for them.

Another thing they don't have is any means of physically drilling into bone. Something of a problem, no?

Image: Thomas Dahlgren, University of Gothenburg

Not so much. Dr Sigrid Katz from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego has discovered their secret.

It's ACID! Even worms use this time-honoured method of dead body disposal!

Their peculiar root system is full of acid secreting enzymes that let them bore into bone without having to use a tiny hammer and chisel. Microscopic sticky-out bits increase the surface area of the roots, ensuring lots and lots of acid can get in there and do its grim work.

So strange! The more I hear of it the more I get the sense that it's the bacteria who are the real brains of the operation. The actual Boneworm sounds more and more like one of those fancy eco-homes.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Long Arm of the Bigfin

Image: NOAA
OK, so it's pretty clear we're all doomed. We shall just have to grow accustomed to the fact that the sea is full of nightmarish monsters beyond imagining who are doubtless scheming to bring about the downfall of all landmasses so that their abhorrent kingdom of Darkness and Drowning may reign supreme across the face of the Earth.

That's evident.