Don’t be fooled by their adorable little legs and slender abdomen, these blind, water-dwelling creatures are in fact venom-filled liquefying machines.
This strange creature that belongs to its own class of crustaceans, the remipedia, is the first crustacean to be identified as venomous.
The remipede feeds by breaking down its prey’s body tissue with its venom and then sucks out a runny meal from its prey’s exoskeleton.
Recently researchers from the Natural History Museum have detailed the makeup of this creature’s venom, helping us understand evolutionary relationships and also potentially having far reaching medical implications.
If you go diving in the western Atlantic Ocean from the Chesapeake Bay to the Dominican Republic, you may run into this gorgeous crab, the Calico Box Crab, Hepatus epheliticus. It lives in shallow water at depths of up to 46 metres (151 ft) on sandy and muddy substrates. It often carries the sea anemone Calliactis tricolor on its back, or lies buried in the sand, with only its eyes exposed.
The ancient Britons: ‘Groundwater shrimp’ survive 19 million years of climate change
(Phys.org) —New research has revealed that Britain and Ireland’s oldest known inhabitants are tiny crustaceans still living today in water-filled crevices deep beneath our feet.
Over the last 60 million years, Britain and Ireland have experienced dramatic climate change, with conditions ranging from warm and wet periods, to arid episodes and then repeated coverings by glaciers. For this reason, it was not thought that any animal species (fauna) could have survived through these fluctuations.
Now, a new study led by Dr Bernd Hänfling, Lecturer in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Hull has yielded some surprising results. Published in the journal Molecular Ecology, it shows that two species of Niphargus (small, shrimp-like animals) have persisted in Britain and Ireland for at least 19 million years; making them the oldest known inhabitants of these countries.
Dr Hänfling explains the significance of the data. He said: “All previous research shows that the majority of fauna in Britain and Ireland arrived from mainland Europe following the most recent glaciations. We have a few unique animal species - for example, the Irish hare - but these are rare and most importantly, they have only been around for a few tens of thousands of years.”
"In contrast, our results show that subterranean groundwater contains by far the oldest animals that are unique to Britain and Ireland. These species must have survived a wide range of temperatures as the climate shifted between glacial and warm conditions."
Endemic from Florida (US) to the South Brazilian coast, Ucides cordatus exhibits territorial behaviur, living in individual burrows up to 2 m deep.
This crab plays a very important ecological role in mangrove areas, because its burrow activity is essential for soil drainage and aeration, and nutrient exchange between water and sediments.
U. cordatus is considered a keystone species of neotropical mangrove forest, and also it represents in Brazil a valuable fishery resource, exploited by local fishermen, both for their subsistence and also as a cash income source.
This creature looks like a pillbug/rolypoly, right?
It’s actually a deep sea isopod (Bathynomus giganteus), but that guess isn’t too far off - the two animals are in the same order of crustaceans, the Isopoda. Land isopods, or roly polies, don’t grow to the same size as this deep ocean dwelling species, which can be about a foot long.
Soldier crabs feed on detritus in the sand, leaving rounded pellets of discarded sand behind them. The males form into large “armies” which traverse the beach at low tide, before the crabs dig into the sand in their unique corkscrew motion, to wait for the next low tide.
Symbiosis is the interaction between two different organisms living in close association.
Symbiotic relationships are an important component of life in the ocean. In such relationships, plants or animals of different species may be dependent on one another for survival. They may share habitats or lifestyles or interact in a specific way to benefit from the presence of another organism.
When two organisms are in a symbiotic relationship, sometimes both organisms benefit (mutualism) and other times one organism may benefit while another is unaffected (commensalism). If one of the organisms is completely dependent on the other, it is called an obligate relationship; if the relationship is preferred, but not dependent, it is a facultative relationship. And, not all symbioses are positive for both organisms: in a parasitic relationship, one member benefits while the “host” is harmed…
image: Hermit crabs are often found inhabiting shells decorated with anemones or other sessile animals, which offer added protection and camouflage. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition.
This swarm of shrimp was seen while exploring the Von Damm hydrothermal field along the Mid-Cayman Rise. Scientists observed at least two species of shrimp at the vent site. One relies on chemosynthesis for food, and the other may be a predator…
Filter-feeders emerge as potential defenders against a deadly amphibian disease.
by Yao-Hua Law
Chytridiomycosis, the deadly disease caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide since the 1980s. “We have no means to stop its advance,” said Antje Lauer, a microbial ecologist at California State University in Bakersfield, “and no cure that can be used in the wild to protect amphibians from it.”
Bd affects amphibian skin, disrupting its ability to regulate electrolytes in the body, explained Jamie Voyles, an infectious disease ecologist at New Mexico Tech. Infected frogs lose excessive amounts of sodium and potassium, which are critical to keep their hearts pumping. Eventually, their hearts stop.
But new research suggests a potential preventive agent against Bd infection—one that may already be swimming all around the affected amphibians. Two recent studies demonstrated that aquatic microscopic fauna—such as Daphnia, Paramecium, and rotifers—can consume free-floating Bd zoospores, keeping Bd from infecting as many frogs…
(Phys.org) —Researchers with the University of Queensland, Brisbane along with an associate from National Cheng Kung University, in China have found what they believe to be a reasonable explanation for mantis shrimp having 12 photoreceptors in their eyes.
In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes a study they conducted where shrimp were trained to respond to different colors, which led to the discovery that despite more receptors than most other organisms, they are less able to discriminate between different colors—a finding that indicates they process colors in a different way. Michael Land and Daniel Osorio offer a Perspective piece on the researchers efforts in the same journal issue.
Scientists have known for many years that mantis shrimp have more photoreceptors than most other organisms, but have not, until now, been able to come up with a reason why. The assumption had been that the creatures had some special vision abilities that allowed them to see things that others could not. In this new effort, it appears that the large numbers of receptors adds a speed advantage rather than visual enhancement…
Lybiais a genus of small crabs in the family Xanthidae. Their common names include boxer crabs, boxing crabs and pom-pom crabs.
They are notable for their mutualism with sea anemones, which they hold in their claws for defense. In return, the anemones get carried around which may enable them to capture more food particles with their tentacles. [Wikipedia]
Amphipods Shift North, New Actors in the Arctic Ecosystem
Biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have for the first time shown that amphipods from the warmer Atlantic are now reproducing in Arctic waters to the west of Spitsbergen.
This surprising discovery indicates a possible shift of the Arctic zooplankton community, scientists report in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The primary victims of this “Atlantification” are likely to be marine birds, fish and whales. The reason is that the migrating amphipods measure around one centimetre, and so are smaller than the respective Arctic species; this makes them less nutritious prey…
Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States, with Americans eating an average of 4.1 pounds per person annually. As delicious as shrimp may be, we actually should not be eating them. The process that delivers bags of frozen shrimp to your grocery store at cheap prices has devastating ecological consequences, and you’ll probably not want to touch that shrimp ring ever again after reading what’s really happening behind the scenes…