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Antarctic Anemones

January 19, 2014

anemoneNo, these are not the “pure spirits” from the tropical trees of Avatar. They are anemones, growing beneath 250 meters of ice–off Antarctica.

About an inch long, with two dozen tentacles, each anemone seeks its tiny dinner to strangle; in subfreezing temperatures, with no light (until the exporers came.) Marymegan Daly and colleagues found these tiny denizens of the dark by drilling a hole through all those meters of ice, in the Ross ice shelf. While blizzards rage above, these tiny creatures grow and multiply. One of the simplest of the animals, these creatures do come female and male; and the females bear eggs. And they react–when the remote camera approached, the tentacles drew back. The animals didn’t want to warm up; they clung fast to their ice. Life adapts, even to this remote niche so forbidding to most other forms.

  1. January 19, 2014 3:53 pm

    It makes me wonder if such anemones occupied a similar niche during the later part of “Snowball Earth”. Unfortunately the fossil evidence doesn’t support a confirmed evolution of anemones as far back as 650 mya, so probably not. But perhaps they were more extensive during the big glaciations.

  2. Virginia permalink
    January 21, 2014 5:11 pm

    Awesome! I do so much enjoy your blog day after day.

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