You are not an encapsulated bag of skin dragging around a dreary little ego. You are an evolutionary wonder, a trillion cells singing together in a vast chorale, an organism – environment, a symbiosis of cell and soul.
The sea dragon slug (Pteraeolidia ianthina): steals stinging cells and photosynthetic symbionts from its prey — while looking super fancy!
“Pteraeolidia ianthina, one of the most common aeolids found, is often called a “blue dragon” by Eastern Australian divers because of its close resemblance to a Chinese dragon. It is one of the most common aeolid nudibranchs found in Eastern Australia. It can inflict a painful sting to humans.
The slug is very elongated (7 cm) with many clusters of medium-large sized cerata along the length of the body. The fat rhinophores and the long cephalic tentacles have at least two dark purple bands that stand out. The tips of the cerata contain nematocysts.
Symbiotic zooxanthellae continue to photosynthesise inside the body and give rise to brown and green pigments. The zooxanthellae, together with the nematocysts, are presumed to be derived from coelenterate prey. These zooxanthellae occur within vacuoles in host cells derived from the endoderm.”
“This sea slug has evolved the ability to harness the sun’s energy for its own use. This is possible because the slug feeds on hydroids which contain symbiotic zooxanthellae, microscopic dinoflagellates that are photosynthetic — in other words that have the capability to make sugars from sunshine. The nudibranch farms these zooxanthellae within its own digestive diverticula. The zooxanthellae then convert the sun’s energy into sugars. The sugars are used by the slug.”
Image 1: Blue Dragon – Pteraeolidia ianthina
Tooth Brush Island. Flickr user billunder, 2009: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/12499727@N04/4230026282/
Image 2: Blue Dragon – Pteraeolidia ianthina
Flickr user billunder, Australia, 2009: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/12499727@N04/4232772648/
Blue Dragon – Pteraeolidia ianthina
Image 3: Sea dragon slug (Pteraeolidia ianthina), GBR, Australia
Photo by Arthur Anker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artour_a/3385581613/in/set-72157623477677107
Volvox, a colonial green algae (more info at Wikipedia)
From the Goldstein Lab, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge:
They do really, really cool research, as described by this awesome statement:
“When asked whether I am a theorist or an experimentalist, my reply is that I am a scientist. Our group seeks to understand fundamental principles that govern the behavior of nonequilibrium systems in physics and biology, using a combination of experiment and theory. This research is not easily described by a single, conventional academic label; rather, it involves the domains of condensed matter physics, physical chemistry, biological physics, fluid dynamics, applied mathematics, and geophysics. I subscribe to Poincaré’s motivation:
The scientist does not study nature because it is useful;
he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because
it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.
I also believe that some of the best science is close to art, and that Glenn Gould captured this spirit when he said
The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but rather the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”
UMMM and they have a YouTube channel!
Volvox globator, a colonial green algae (more info at Wikipedia)
“The vast majority of these illustration plates are from a plant systematics wall chart series – the Dodel-Port Atlas – released between 1878 & 1883”
Volvox, a colonial green algae
“Volvox is the most developed in a series of genera that form spherical colonies. Each mature Volvox colony is composed of numerous flagellate cells similar to Chlamydomonas, up to 50,000 in total, and embedded in the surface of a hollow sphere or coenobium containing an extracellular matrix made of a gelatinous glycoprotein. The cells swim in a coordinated fashion, with distinct anterior and posterior poles. The cells have eyespots, more developed near the anterior, which enable the colony to swim towards light. The individual algae in some species are interconnected by thin strands of cytoplasm, called protoplasmates. They are known to demonstrate some individuality and working for the good of their colony, acting like one multicellular organism.”
Image 1: Volvox aureus, by Dennis Kunkel (2002): http://www.denniskunkel.com/index.php?module=search&pId=100&keyword=volvox&phrase=1
Image 3: From Wikipedia, cc-by-sa
Image 4: Life cycle of Volvox carteri: http://www.metamicrobe.com/volvox/
an infinite multitude of things doing an infinite multitude of actions in infinite time and space; and yet they are not many things, but one thing
Quote in context:
“We can no longer separate things as we once could: everything tends towards unity; one thing, one action, in one place, at one time. On the other hand, we can no longer unify things as we once could; we are driven to ultimate atoms, each one of which is an individuality.
So that we have an infinite multitude of things doing an infinite multitude of actions in infinite time and space; and yet they are not many things, but one thing.”
—Samuel Butler, The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part IV: Mind and Matter