Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 4: More Worms! (Spiralia II)

Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 4: More Worms! (Spiralia II)

From the flatworms we now move on to the ringworms (or annelids), who are composed of a series of ring-shaped segments. These worms have hair-like appendages used for locomotion, including walking, crawling, swimming and burrowing. The most familiar ringworms are probably good old earthworms, the topic of Charles Darwin’s final book. Though generally quite small, some species (like the giant Australian earthworm) can reach sizes of up to 3 metres. Continue reading “Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 4: More Worms! (Spiralia II)”

Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 3: A Spiralian Miscellany (Spiralia I)

Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 3: A Spiralian Miscellany (Spiralia I)

The Spiralia form a massive group of animals that will keep us busy for quite a few episodes. They include the molluscs (snails, clams, squid, &tc), but before we get to them there is an assortment of other soft-bodied critters to visit. Many of these will be worms. And squishy. In fact, “wormy and squishy” may be a fairly accurate characterization of the spiralians. Continue reading “Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 3: A Spiralian Miscellany (Spiralia I)”

Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 2: The Stingers (Corals & Jellies)

Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 2: The Stingers (Corals & Jellies)

Standing strong at well over 10,000 species, the “Cnidaria” form a remarkably diverse and colourful (if at times a bit shapeless) group of animals. They include the jellyfish, sea anemones, corals, and their kin, while ranging from microscopic polyps to the gigantic lion mane jellyfish, who can grow to reach a diameter of over 2m, dragging along more than 30m of tentacles. Most species are carnivorous and use tentacles to catch their prey. Continue reading “Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 2: The Stingers (Corals & Jellies)”

Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 1: The Sponges

Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 1: The Sponges

There’s probably no better place to start a tour of the animal kingdom than the sponges. In terms of anatomy, sponges are the simplest animals, lacking organs, limbs, and much more. Although they are of course famous for bringing us Spongebob Squarepants and for their contributions to human hygiene, sponges are otherwise a bit invisible to those of us who don’t live in the sea. Continue reading “Guide to the Animal Kingdom Episode 1: The Sponges”

The OddShrimp’s Guide to the Animal Kingdom – Introduction

After a period of inactivity i feel it’s about time for a new project. Given my interest in all animals large and small, I have decided to go a little bit more systematic. It is with some pride that I hereby present The OddShrimp’s Guide to the Animal Kingdom. Continue reading “The OddShrimp’s Guide to the Animal Kingdom – Introduction”

The Case of the Circle-Saw Shark (or, the palaeontologists vs. the softies part I)

The Case of the Circle-Saw Shark (or, the palaeontologists vs. the softies part I)

One of the central problems of palaeontology is that hard parts of organisms are often very well preserved, soft parts not so well. Thus, shells and bones are common in the fossil record; skin, muscles and other soft tissues are not. Shark teeth, for instance, are really common. They’re very hard, and sharks continuously replace their teeth during their lives, so the fossil record is littered with them. Unfortunately, shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Cartilage does not fossilise wel, so the great, great majority of shark fossils are nothing but teeth. Continue reading “The Case of the Circle-Saw Shark (or, the palaeontologists vs. the softies part I)”

Curious Critters – The Ghost Crab

Curious Critters – The Ghost Crab

When Dutch naturalists made a stop at the Cocos islands on their way to Indonesia in 1820, they were struck by the cleanliness of the beaches. Usually, the beach is a great place to find remains of all sorts of washed up marine life – mussels, seaweed, fishes, etc. – but on the Cocos islands they could barely find anything. A little patient observation provided the explanation for this odd state of affairs: these islands are very rich in crabs, and crabs like to keep their front yard tidy. None more so than the adorable ghost crabs. Continue reading “Curious Critters – The Ghost Crab”

Weekly Water Critter – The Amazing Jesus Fish

Weekly Water Critter – The Amazing Jesus Fish
 I came across a rather curious object recently: an isolated skull roof (with a few attached vertebrae) of a catfish, placed on a soft bed of black felt, nicely decorated with shiny sea shells. While worthy of aesthetic appreciation in and of itself, this is not the reason why these objects are sold at rather large quantities in (especially) the United States. For if you flip it over, a familiar figure reveals itself: a humanoid shape on a cross. Jesus, undoubtedly. Continue reading “Weekly Water Critter – The Amazing Jesus Fish”

Weekly Water Critter – The Christmas Tree Worm

Weekly Water Critter – The Christmas Tree Worm

Ah, Christmas. The time of cozy family get-togethers, presents, embarrassing sweaters, somewhat excessive amounts of food, terrible music, and of course indoor trees. We all look forward to this time of the year, but in some places it is Christmas all year round, thanks to the christmas tree worm. The colourful feeding appendages of this little tube worm indeed resemble christmas trees remarkably well, providing a nice holiday-themed decoration to the usually already festively coloured coral reefs. Continue reading “Weekly Water Critter – The Christmas Tree Worm”