Imagine huge, long-necked sauropods roaming primeval forests. The dinosaur represented above, Argentinosaurus, lived around 95 million years ago in what is today Patagonia. These giants are thought to be the largest dinosaurs ever to walk the earth, weighing up to 75 tons and growing to 130 feet long; the narrowest part of a leg might be about four feet around.
We typically think of flatworms as being pretty easy going. Not this one. The New Guinea flatworm, is a powerful predator that feeds on other worms, snails and a variety of soil-dwelling creatures. Flatworms come in many varieties, sizes and lifestyles. There are over 20,000 identified species both free-living and parasitic.
The New Guinea flatworm, a land planarian, is in the news since it made “The 100 Worst Invasive Species” list by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is spreading to many corners of the world, gobbling up prey as it goes. Now, the two-inch long flatworm has made it to the continental United States. So what’s the problem with having this invasive flatworm on our shores? It likely has no natural predators, which means it could wreak havoc on soil ecosystems rippling up the food chain to animals, like birds, that feed on earthworms and snails.
From IFL Science! New Guinea Flatworm, one of the Worst Known Invasive Species, Found in US
From Science Daily Discovery in the US of the New Guinea flatworm, one of the worst known invasive species
Video: Highly Invasive Snail-Eating Flatworm Species Spotted In U.S.
Is that watermelon we smell?
Nope. It’s the Melibe leonine who lives in kelp forests and eel grass beds along the Pacific coast.
Look at a melibe and you might think: jellyfish. But it’s the melibe’s head, or oral hood, that’s fooling you. To feed, a melibe extends its hood and sweeps it back and forth to catch small plankton, which it then passes to its mouth. While melibe prefer to remain attached to a surface, they can dislodge when threatened and swim by contracting their bodies.
(Or, what we like to call Sir Lancelet)
We humans have come a long way from our earliest chordates. Amphioxus, or the lancelet, is an animal that comes closer than any other to the transition group between invertebrates and vertebrates. Because they are early chordates and have all the chordate characteristics,. Amphioxus has been essential in understanding vertebrate evolution. Our human evolution.
Most of us see sea stars in shallow coastal waters—or as images of these colorful creatures. Basket stars are shy during the day and live in shallow and deep waters.
Sand crabs, also called mole crabs, live in the constantly shifting sands at the edge of the beach and ocean, called the swash zone. To stay put, this small crab (.75 to 2 inches) burrows backwards as fast as it can. As a wave breaks over it, the crab sticks out its feather-like antennae to catch plankton.
Did you know that one out of every three bites of food we eat is brought to us from our friends the honey bees? Just watching a hive for a few minutes, you can see more functional order than our culture can imagine. If bees were to disappear, human mankind would have less than four years to live.
We’ve all seen earthworms and think we know all about them. But do we? We think they’re good for our gardens, and that’s true. They aerate the soil and provide nutrients. But what’s good for the garden isn’t good for most forests in North America. That’s because earthworms are an invasive species. When the ice sheets moved across the continent more than 10,000 years ago, they wiped out native earthworms. Today, most earthworms north of Pennsylvania are non-native. They arrived with the European explorers.
photo source: http://www.gbif.org/species/116785650#images
Most of us have seen sea anemones on the rocky shores. But, the pom-pom anemone (Liponema brevicornis) lives unattached on muddy seafloors at depths of 330-3,300 feet. It feeds on food particles drifting by. They have been found near hydrothermal vents and cold seeps as well as near whale carcasses.
The pom-pom anemone can be puffed up like in the top picture, or can flatten out more like a rolled tube. Scientists have seen the anemones in this shape being blown by currents on the sea floor like a tumbleweed. Another common name for this animal is the tumbleweed anemone. (But, we prefer Pom-Pom).
Photo from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
How can a sponge catch prey when it just sits on the bottom of the ocean pumping water? It seems that even the sponge’s simple body plan has evolved a way to trap animals and then eat them. Talk about Adaptability!