|Image: Greg W. Rouse|
Polychaetes of the Syllidae family are noted for their impressive experimentation when it comes to procreation. Cloning is cool. Especially if, like me, you need the manpower for your mission to take over the world (you, my dear readers, shall be richly rewarded for your continued loyalty).
The male/female thing is also pretty nifty. Especially if, like me, you enjoy... actually, let's not go there... although there are some interesting possibilities with cloning technology...
Anyway. That'll have to wait. For now, we'll just see how a worm uses cloning AND sex for procreation, and yet somehow ends up not taking over the world. Such a waste...
It all starts with a worm. Just as you'd expect. It ends with a worm, too, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
This solitary worm reproduces asexually through a process called budding. From its back end, a whole new worm begins to form. And while it's doing so, yet another worm begins to form between the adult and its young. And then another. And another. Pretty soon we have a worm with a whole tail of worms attached to its behind, getting larger and larger as they reach the end.
Soon enough, the eldest youngster, the one at the very end of the tail, breaks off to start life on its own. One by one all the other tail-worms grow, detach and swim away. The parent worm remains, crawling around on sponges, but the youngsters have a job to do near the water's surface.
The thing is, each tail is either a row of male worms or a row of female worms. They swim up, release their eggs or sperm and die soon after. The eggs can now develop into worms who descend to the sponges like their grandparents before them, to feed and grow their glorious, sexy tails.
There is much we can learn from the Syllid worms. With the addition of weapons and military tactics, the world shall be MINE! I mean ours.