Wednesday 16 October 2013

A Big, Yellow Larvacean!

Most Larvacea are tiny, almost entirely transparent and while they're found all over the world, the biggest, most obvious ones live in deep, Arctic waters.

This one is clad in the fluorescent colours of a highlighter pen!

Larvacea is that strange group of tunicates who retain the look of a tadpole throughout their life. Other tunicates, like the Sea Squirt, soon metamorphose into a bottom dwelling adult, absorbing their brain and notochord in the process.

The notochord runs along the tail. In vertebrates it becomes the backbone, in most tunicates it all but disappears, in Larvacea it wriggles around to swim and pump food into their mucus house.

Video: liquidguru

You can barely see the house in this video because the mucus it's made of is mercifully transparent rather than all green and nasty. In fact, this Larvacea looks a lot more snotty than the mucus it lives in!

Water is pumped through the complicated passages and corridors of the house so that tiny plankton can be filtered out and eaten.

With a total length of about 2.5 cm (an inch), this Larvacea is bigger than most. It was spotted in Indonesia and seems to be dressed up as a horrible sneeze on its way to a party. It looks like it could glow in the dark and it even sports a snazzy go-faster stripe! Fun!


Esther said...

What a beautiful name for so humble an abode. Snot house!

Joseph JG said...

Hahaha! Yeh, sounds like a real palace.

TexWisGirl said...

yech!!! :)

Joseph JG said...

Haha! Well I think it's ADORABLE!

elfinelvin said...

I think it's lovely! my sister and I used to catch tadpoles and watch them grow into frogs. (Then we put them back.) It would have been wonderful if they were this brightly colored.

Joseph JG said...

Wow, yeh! Imagine if Dart Frog tadpoles were the same colour as the adults!