Friday 17 January 2014

Red Slate Pencil Urchin

Image: Scott Roy Atwood
Heterocentrotus mamillatus
What on Earth? Is this what passes for spines these days? Someone's really let themselves go...

Spikes! That's like, the whole Sea Urchin thing. Spiny spikes and spiky spines. Sharp. Dangerous. Sea Urchins have I will hurt you written all over them, from head to... All over them, anyway.

Image: USFWS - Pacific Region
So the Slate Pencil Urchin with its rich covering of blunt clubs is a bit of an oddity. Their spines are not so much pencils as well-worn crayons. They may even be suitable for children aged 4 and over.

These peculiar echinoderms are found throughout the Indo-Pacific but are most common in Hawaii. That's also where they're at their most RED.

Image: Nick Hobgood
Elsewhere they can end up more brown in colour.

Image: WalshTD
If you do find a vibrantly red one, it can look something like a devilish ball of molten lava some 25 cm (10 in) across. Assuming Hell really doesn't freeze over, this is probably what snow looks like there.

Image: Silke Baron
Their skin looks like a Hellish landscape!
Possibly not appropriate for children aged 4 and over...


TexWisGirl said...

how cute! almost look like carrots!

Crunchy said...

"Here, have these hot dogs, just don't eat me!"

Giga said...

Wyglądają pieknie, ale wolałbym się nie spotkać z nimi w wodzie. Pozdrawiam.
They look beautifully, but I would prefer not to meet with them in the water. Yours.

Lear's Fool said...

I'm constantly being amazed by these echinoderms, they're WAY more advanced then I ever thought they were.

Then again, I always kind of thought of them as 'proto-cnidarians that mutated until their larvae couldn't form a proper hydroid and then said 'screw it' and evolved benthic adults'. . . so 'jellyfish in a shell' just doesn't capture the range of possibilities.

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: It could be a kind waiter at a vegetarian party, offering a carrot buffet!

@Crunchy: Ah! The carnivorous option!

@Giga: They're so small I'm sure they'd look like little darlings!

@Lear's Fool: Ha! Yeah. I feel similar about annelids... I had NO idea!