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Flying Squid and Sea-swallowing Octopods

October 24, 2011

A Door into OceanIn A Door into Ocean, there are no vertebrates; no creatures with a “backbone.” But invertebrates like cephalopods have evolved to fill every niche–even flying squid.  And who needs a backbone (don’t miss this octopus climbing through the hole!) Most science-fictional ecosystems show only one creature of a type, like the giant sandworm.  But on Shora, as in real ecosystems, we see squid-forms of all sizes and niches, from swarming worms that feed on the raft branches to the giant seaswallowers that consume entire rafts.

Real ocean invertebrates show extraordinary diversity, from sea cucumbers  and man-of-war jellyfish to the kraken of the deep. And their pulsing light organs gave us fluorescent molecular tools–the Green Fluorescent Protein that earned a Nobel, and now makes cloned pigs and cats that glow in the dark.

More awesome examples, from comments — Cuttlefish strobing, and Xenophyophore, the largest single-cell protist. And these floating snails look like the ones I invented. They not only exist–they feed on deadly man-of-war jellyfish.

What’s your favorite invertebrate?

  1. October 25, 2011 2:10 am

    I like the way cuttlefish can make strobing patterns on their arms to mesmerize their prey.

    • October 25, 2011 1:47 pm

      Yes, I love cuttlefish too, to the point where I created a world where the land animals had all evolved from a vertebrate that had similar color-changing abilities. Fun stuff, if you can imagine the local intelligent forms having smell and vision as their dominant sensory modalities, and using skin patterns to communicate.

      Beyond the cephalopods, I have a theoretical fondness for weevils of the genus Gymnopholus, subgenus Symbiopholus (especially. G. lichenifer), ever since I read about how they have a whole community of lichens, mites, and rotifers on their backs. Never seen one, but perhaps someday.

      Also, bees are cool, although I like the little native bees more than the Africanized honeybees. Ants are cool too.

  2. October 25, 2011 4:31 am

    Xenophyophores are cool, implausible but cool. They’re not multicellular, but if you only have one cell, why would you have a back-bone?

    • October 25, 2011 10:26 am

      The largest protist–I hadn’t seen that one! Large enough to be an ultraphyte cell.
      Have you seen Caulerpa, the largest single-cell alga? It’s taking over the coastal waters off California.

  3. October 25, 2011 1:31 pm

    The purple bubblerafting snail Janthina janthina uses a bubbleraft made of chitin to sail the waters of the great oceans.

    • October 25, 2011 3:48 pm

      Floating snails–I thought I’d invented them. And they feed on man-of-war! Awesome!

      • October 26, 2011 9:52 am

        I recon they like their meals very spicy.

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