Bryozoan Statoblast (diminutive aquatic animal of the phylum Bryozoa) (10x)

“Survival pod” of a bryozoan colony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryozoa#Reproduction_and_life_cycles

“Phylactolaemates also reproduce asexually by a method that enables a colony’s lineage to survive the variable and uncertain conditions of freshwater environments.[16] Throughout summer and autumn they produce disc-shaped statoblasts, masses of cells that function as “survival pods” rather like the gemmules of sponges.[6] Statoblasts form on the funiculus connected to the parent’s gut, which nourishes them.[16] As they grow, statoblasts develop protective bivalve-like shells made of chitin. When they mature, some statoblasts stick to the parent colony, some fall to the bottom (“sessoblasts”), some contain air spaces that enable them to float (“floatoblasts”),[6] and some remain in the parent’s cystid to re-build the colony if it dies.[16] Statoblasts can remain dormant for considerable periods, and while dormant can survive harsh conditions such as freezing and desiccation. They can be transported across long distances by animals, floating vegetation, currents[6] and winds,[16] and even in the guts of larger animals.[64] When conditions improve, the valves of the shell separate and the cells inside develop into a zooid that tries to form a new colony. Plumatella emarginata produces both “sessoblasts”, which enable the lineage to control a good territory even if hard times decimate the parent colonies, and “floatoblasts”, which spread to new sites. New colonies of Plumatella repens produce mainly “sessoblasts” while mature ones switch to “floatoblasts”.[61] A study estimated that one group of colonies in a patch measuring 1 square metre (11 sq ft) produced 800,000 statoblasts.[6]


From The Earth Story Facebook:

While it certainly looks as though someone has taken a great deal of paint to these hills, these colours in fact formed naturally.
This unique geological formation is known as the Zhangye Danxia landform, found in southern China. It was formed by sediments laid down in a low-elevation fault basin during the Cretaceous period, which then experienced uplift due to their position on top of various fault zones. The various colours are a result of the erosion of the thick-bedded red sandstone and conglomerate: from running water erosion, biological effect, chemical precipitation and organic staining.

Image 1: A dish of millipedes under UV light. Most of the ones fluorescing in blue are Semionellus placidus, while the two fluorescing red are Pseudopolydesmus serratus. Red fluorescence under UV hasn’t been reported before in arthropods, to my knowledge.”

Photos by Derek Hennen. Check out his blog post for more field notes and details on identification!

Image 2: Semionellus placidus, photo by Derek Hennen (source)


This was actually one of my favorite books as a child! I’ll have to scan some pages next time I visit my parents. I had pet planaria, tadpoles, caterpillars, a xystodesmid millipede, a dusky salamander… not all in a jar, of course!

(img source, although I don’t agree with their review!)

Eggs of Things, Maxine W. Kumin and Anne Sexton (1963)

Full (out-of-print) book available at brain pickings:

Eggs of Things was followed by More Eggs of Things in 1964, also sadly out-of-print but available in some public libraries.”

Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.

I don’t know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.

Richard Feynman, from Omni interview, “The Smartest Man in the World”(chapter 9), The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999)


Terrifying (but tiny!) bryozoans

Images 1 and 2: Beania mirabilis (source) cc-by-nc-sa

Image 3: Electra monostachys (source) cc-by-nc-sa

Image 1: “Scanning electron microscope image of a bryozoan colony” (Source)

Image 2: “This skeleton of a living bryozoan, collected at Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California, clearly shows this typical colonial organiation.

Each individual, or zooid, is enclosed in a sheath of tissue, the zooecium, that in many species secretes a rigid skeleton of calcium carbonate. Each zooid in this electron micrograph is less than a millimeter long and has a single opening, the orifice. Through this opening, the lophophore, a ring of ciliated tentacles centered on the mouth, protrudes to capture small food particles. The lophophore can be retracted very rapidly by specialized retractor muscles, and the opening closed by a doorlike operculum, visible on some of the zooids in the picture at the left.”


Image 3: Membraniporella nitida (source) cc-by-nc-sa

More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryozoa

Pygites brachiopods… or bizarre fossil scrotal phylogeny?

Images 1 and 2: Source. In German. 

Image 3: Source

Caption: “Pygites is unusual for a Terebratulid brachiopod. It shares many of the same features that other brachiopods in it’s order except that it has a hole in the middle of it. The hole is created as the shell grows and splits into lobes that then eventually meet back together and enclose a hollow area. This is odd behavior for a brachiopodand I’ve only seen a handful of genera that have even exaggerated lobes, such as Dicoelosia from the Haragan formation, let alone those that surround a hole. Below are three specimens from the Cretaceous (Hauterivian stage) of Spain that show you the variation in the genera.”

Image 4: ”Pygites diphyoides (d’Orbigny, 1849) from the Hauterivian (Lower Cretaceous) of Cehegin, Murcia, Spain. This terebratulid is characterized by a central perforation through its valves.” Source: Wikipedia; cc-by-sa

Image 5: Pygites diphyoides (source)