Friday 1 February 2013

Marrus orthocanna

Image: Hidden Ocean Expedition 2005/NOAA/OAR/OER

That javelin is jet powered and you CAN'T DENY IT! It's like running a marathon by spending half of it on a train! For shame.

Either that or it's Marrus orthocanna, a siphonophore found at depths of 200 to 800 metres (660 to 2,600 ft) in cold, Arctic waters. Ah, yes... a siphonophore. Get your Dictionary of Alien Words out.

Image: Kevin Raskoff
This light fitting would go really well with a lava lamp
Siphonophores are colonial relatives of jellyfish and sea anemones. Each member of the colony is called a zooid, and all are clones of the founding protozooid.

This protozooid becomes an elongated polyp, like a really long, thin sea anemone. It reaches up to 10 cm (4 in) long, and has a mouth at the bottom and a gas-filled pneumatophore at the top. Just like many other siphonophores, such as the Portuguese Man o' War, the pneumatophore ensures the colony doesn't sink to the sea floor. It's just that the Man o' War has a really huge pneumatophore while most other siphonophores have much smaller ones.

Siphonophore... pneumatophore... ensure... sea floor... There's a poem in there, somewhere.

Image: Kevin Raskoff
Utterly maddening...
All along the length of the protozooid are the nectophores, looking like jars or lamps. They have an orange lining which is a food canal that the entire colony shares. It also means M. orthocanna can be described as "rad" or "groovy" by people in bell-bottoms.

Actually the nectophores are pretty much jellyfish on a stick. They contract so that the colony can slowly swim through the ocean. With the much diminished current of the deep, the colony can even coordinate everything so they have enviable control over what direction they go in. Enviable by jellyfish standards, anyway.

And beneath the nectosome there is the siphosome...

Image: Kevin Raskoff
Mostly eating
The colony is dominated by the siphosome; the whole colony may reach some 2 metres (6.5 feet) long and almost all of it is taken up by the siphosome. Why? Because that's how they eat! The siphosome is comprised of lots more polyps, like tiny sea anemones. Some have a single tentacle up to 50 cm (20 in) long for catching food, while others do the digestion and share the proceeds with the rest of the colony via those orange channels.

Marrus orthocanna has been seen slowly swimming along before pausing to unveil its giant curtain of stinging death, probably catching all sorts of crustaceans. So if you hip cats are looking for a trendy, all-in-one light fixture that will send the oldies and squares reeling AND deal with your shrimp infestation, you know what you need.


TexWisGirl said...

almost looks like jewelry to me. weird jewelry, but still...

Joseph JG said...

I think it would make for a really nice brooch!