Thursday, October 24, 2013
We have covered molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms in larger units, but there are lots of other invertebrate phyla including three types of worms, sponges, and cnidarians.
There are three types of worms - Flatworms (Platyhelminthes), R0undworms (Nematodes), and Segmented Worms (Annelids).
Flatworms (Platy-hel- minthes) are flat and ribbon like, have bilateral symmetry and include things like tapeworms, planarians, flukes, and brightly colored marine flatworms. Marine flatworms have similar adaptations to nudibranchs (molluscs), but are flat and have no tufts. They are simple animals and are often parasites.
Roundworms (Nematodes) are ubiquitous and found commonly worldwide in every biome... but they are poorly understood because they are very very small. Less than 5cm. They have radial symmetry and often are parasites. Roundworms have scary looking mouths with teeth for attaching - often used in scary movies.
For those of you studying invertebrates, you can use these matching cards to help!
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Echinoderm means spiny skin. Echinoderms include sea urchins, sea stars, sand dollars, sea cucumbers and some other odd organisms like feather stars and basket stars. All echinoderms have radial symmetry, spiny skin, and an endoskeleton called a test.
Most people are familiar with an orange sea star because on the east coast, that's all we've got. On the west coast and in other places around the world, it is easier to find a variety of sea stars in other colors and with different amounts of legs.
Sea stars have powerful tube feet that use water suction to open molluscs. When they eat molluscs, they actually stick their stomach into the shells of the mollusc, digest it, and then put their stomach.
Feather stars and basket stars both have crazy looking legs that they wave around to filter feed. Sea urchins and sand dollars are both covered with protective spines and eat with a scraping mouth called Aristotle's Lantern.
Sea cucumbers have lost most of their exoskeleton and are a bit squishier than other echinoderms. Sea cucumbers are important detritus eaters on the sea floor. When attacked by predators they will expel their guts as a meal for the predator as they make a get away. Sea cucumbers are able to regenerate these guts over time.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
- Gulf shrimp are the ones people most people are familiar with because these are the ones we eat!
- Shore shrimp live in sea grasses, are fairly small and clear, and are not commercially harvested because no one would make any money.
- Snapping shrimp (or pistol shrimp) have slightly larger claws and can use them to make sonic waves to stun their prey with sound.
- Mantis shrimp whack their prey with arms that can unfold and strike lightning quick.
- Cleaner shrimp make their living eating parasites off of fish and other sea creatures.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
- Blue Crabs are found in the Chesapeake Bay. They are very agressive, like to pinch, but are good to eat. They have a pointy-ended shell and swim fins. (you can kind of see the swim fins on the last leg of the crabs on the right)
- Spider Crabs have a rounder body shape, often a bumpy shell that will grow algae for camouflage, and longer more spindly legs. Spider Crabs include snow crabs and king crabs like the ones seen on Deadliest Catch. A decorator crab is a kind of spider crab that attaches stuff to its bumpy shell to blend in.
- Fiddler Crab males have one claw that is a lot bigger than the other. This is for impressing the ladies, and used to show dominance over other males.
- Hermit Crabs have a weak exoskeleton and thus protect it with a stolen mollusc shell. They have adapted to this lifestyle and have modified back legs that hook on the inside to hold the shell on and one claw that is slightly larger to use as an operculum.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Monday, October 7, 2013
Cephalopods are characterized by their large well developed eyes, numerous tentacles, a parrot like beak in the center of the tentacles, and well developed chromatophores in their skin that allow them to change color.
We watched numerous videos today to see and understand how and why cephalopods make ink clouds, to see how an octopus can swim with jet propulsion or use its tentacles to crawl around, and we also saw how a octopus can eat a shark!
more information about cephalopods, check out CephBase and the Australian Cephalopod Research page.
Friday, October 4, 2013
Some shells are spiral and have an operculum to act as a door for when they hide inside. The snail lives in the entire shell (all the way up into the top and retreats inside to hide when it feels threatened or exposed. The operculum blocks any would-be attackers and is made of a material similar to fingernails. These types of molluscs include whelks and moon snails.
Other shells are not spiral and the snail has good suction power so that predators have a difficult time pulling the snail off the rocks. These types of molluscs include slipper snails, abalones, and limpets.
Even though they don't have a shell, they do however have some interesting adaptations to keep from getting eaten. Most nudibranch exhibit warning coloration because they are poisonous or have stingers - none that they make - they acquire them from the prey that they eat!
National Geographic did a great article a few years ago full of lovely photos. Both are linked here. Watch the video for a full-range spectrum of photos.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Today classes got a close up look at the Limax maximus and their slimy mollusc bodies. Thank you Steve for bringing him in! Students looked at the two sets of tentacles (eyespots and sensory tentacles) and the hole the land slug breathes through. Some touched it to see what the slug felt like and quite a few second and third period students let the slug slime all over them. Way to be brave!
Slugs can be considered gross because of the copious amounts of mucus they leave behind. The mucus helps them get a better grip on surfaces and helps prevent dessication, drying out. It can also make the slug more difficult to pick up by predators. More information about slugs can be found here.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
A mollusc makes a pearl to cover an irritating spot like a piece of sand that gets inside the shell. Pearls can be "glued" to the side of the shell or free to move inside the mollsucs shell. We prefer the "free" kind.
Here is a great short video that explains the process!
Any mollusk that produces a shell can produce a pearl. Nevertheless, naturally occurring pearls are rare, found in perhaps one of every 10,000 animals. The cultured pearl industry, which has flourished since the early 20th century, has developed techniques to greatly improve these odds. Indeed, more pearls are produced now than at any time in human history.( SOURCE This is a good website for lots of information on pearls)
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
- The shells found on the beach are from dead organisms.
- Any mollusc that has a shell, makes it shell.
- Sea shells are made of calcium carbonate.
- Shells are smooth on the inside because slimy molluscs don't want to rub their soft bodies on something rough. If they are smooth on the outside, then the mollusc also wears its body on the outside of its shell.
Today's cool mollusc was the chiton, an odd mollusc that has 8 overlapping plates held together by its soft squishy mantle, and the plates come apart when the animal dies. Chitons are built like armored cars and have great suction to stay on the rocky coast in waves and storms. They spend their days sliming around scraping algae. When pulled off a rock, it can roll into a ball to protect its squishy parts. More info can be found here.
Mussels make byssal threads for attaching (so do ark shells and jingle shells) and scallops have eyespots to see predators. Oysters make cement to stick together and clams have a powerful foot for digging down and hiding.
Computer Lab Etiquette
You are in the computer lab to do work for this class. If you are not doing work, then we will have problems.
Do not pack up early. Work until the bell or until MsJ says.
SAVE OFTEN. And if you save to a key, also save it to your number. If you lose it, you will have to do it again.
If MsJ asks for your attention, stop what you are doing and listen to what she has to say.
You may watch videos about your organism through reliable websites.
You may listen to music through the computer if you have your own headphones. Rule1 MsJ cannot hear it. You get one warning. Rule2 Turn it on and listen – no million clicks and constant changing. Take both ear phones out when MsJ is talking.