|A very, very, very fine house.|
Posted by Merry on February 19, 2013 at 20:04:27:|
This is certainly one of the most overlooked animals in the ocean, and the reason is that frankly, they arenít much to look at. Itís pretty easy to ignore vague, almost microscopic spheres of organized debris with wing-like structures in the center. However, thereís a tiny animal living inside this bubble of schmutz. Enter the larvacean, a tadpole-shaped tunicate also known as an appendicularian.
Yet another version of the oceanís many grazers, its job is to filter and consume phytoplankton, protists, bacteria, detritus, and perhaps even colloidal dissolved organic carbon.
How small can you get? Less than two millimeters long, a larvacean is no more than a trunk and a tail. The trunk houses both male and female sex organs together, glands for producing its mucous house, a mouth, and other standard issue organs. The muscular tail has a flexible rod for support and a nerve cord.
Note the blue larvacean trunk. Within the external mucous sheet are 2 sets of feeding filters.
This is probably an Oikopleura that sports a festive yellow and blue trunk, and pale blue tail.
Although larvaceans arenít the most glamorous photo subjects, scientific interest in them is keen because of their important role in the ocean carbon cycle.
This link will take you to larvaceans in action.
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