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Zoology, the final frontier
April 28, 2010 6:43 PM   Subscribe

So this new critter, the Symbion pandora, has such a bizarre life cycle and is just so bloody weird -unlike anything we had come across before- that its discovery in 1995 lead to the creation of a whole new phylum in the Animal Kingdom. Meet the little monsters.

If your weird-o-meter is humming, keep reading Zoologger, a new column in NewScientist magazine that writes about about weird animals from around the globe. Selective abortion in pipefish, single-cell giants that enslave bacteria, amphibious cats, you name it.
posted by Cobalt (38 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
WTF, Nature?
posted by zizzle at 6:54 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


A matryoshka-like nesting of successive forms. Awesome.
posted by idiopath at 7:03 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


single-cell giants that enslave bacteria

Some research grants are looking into whether this is consensual.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:03 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who knew a lobster would get its own bib.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:04 PM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


A Lobster's Microscopic Friend
the Symbion pandora,
at first glance would appear to be
not fauna, rather flora
A Lobster's Microscopic Friend
will never let him down
he's welcome anytime at all
down in Lobster Town
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:22 PM on April 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


fuckin symbions how do they work
posted by signalnine at 7:25 PM on April 28, 2010 [26 favorites]


I wish it were more like zoolander
posted by mollyC at 7:33 PM on April 28, 2010


Clicked through to the Coconut Crab, a giant crab credited for devouring Amelia Earhart and dragging her bones into their giant crab burrows.
posted by eddydamascene at 7:36 PM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


These symbions have the lifecycle equivalent of Calvinball.
If scientists are baffled, I'm just not even going to try to figure it out.
posted by Flashman at 7:39 PM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


handy ascii chart of the life cycle of the symbion / pandora / promethius / male / female stages of the organism (if I read correctly the pandora is functionally another symbion after split
 Symbion
/ \  \
Pa Pr f
  /|\  \
 m m m-*-
         \
       Symbion

posted by idiopath at 7:39 PM on April 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


oh, and I should have mentioned that * is the chordoid larva that hatches from the female and then swims to another lobster to molt into another Symbion.
posted by idiopath at 7:58 PM on April 28, 2010


o_O earth is weird
posted by not_on_display at 8:02 PM on April 28, 2010


Just imagine the immense vocabulary that would be needed to describe the various symbion alternative sexualities (if they exist). Yeah we could call two of the males that pair gay or call two of the females lesbian if they paired, but what would we call a promethius / female couple? symbion / male? chordoid / pandora?

Imagine the size of the acronyms their social justice movements would use...
posted by idiopath at 8:04 PM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Fantastic. Great post, Cobalt. Thanks for this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:20 PM on April 28, 2010


I had roommates like that once.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:24 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


If scientists are baffled, I'm just not even going to try to figure it out.

No man, you got it all wrong. Run and hide when the scientists stop being baffled. Being baffled is their job.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:28 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


but what would we call a promethius / female couple? symbion / male? chordoid / pandora?

Will and Grace. All of em.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:30 PM on April 28, 2010


Baffled boffins trying to impose their rigid gender constructs on phyla they don't really understand. Typical.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:41 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Heeding my own advice, I came upon this one. The video at the end is absolutely, horrifyingly awesome.

Does this count as talking to myself?
posted by Cobalt at 9:00 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


idiopath: “Just imagine the immense vocabulary that would be needed to describe the various symbion alternative sexualities...”

... and yet they gave the poor thing a name that makes it sound like a friggin' cell phone that streams online music.
posted by koeselitz at 9:24 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why does the Coconut Crab have a tail that looks like HAMBURGER?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


SFW. But there's no undo.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 PM on April 28, 2010


I'm confused; New Scientist is talking about it but it doesn't appear to be bullshit. My worldview is shattered.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


New Scientist has really improved of late, Justinian. I dunno what's going on over there, but their articles have been pretty much excellent for at least a year or so. Actually thinking about subscribing.
posted by Malor at 3:59 AM on April 29, 2010


how is chorddoid larva formed?
posted by rusty at 6:29 AM on April 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've visited the planet these come from.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:44 AM on April 29, 2010


This makes my brain hurt. I'm going back to bed.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 6:56 AM on April 29, 2010


Cobalt: Heeding my own advice, I came upon this one. The video at the end is absolutely, horrifyingly awesome.

I'd heard of those wasps before, but never seen one. They are fucking evil. No wonder they turned Richard Dawkins into an atheist.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:58 AM on April 29, 2010


they need to way instain organism!
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I've visited the planet these come from."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:44 AM


You took some DMT?
posted by symbioid at 10:35 AM on April 29, 2010


Surely, the phylum for these things should have been named Cthulhuphora.
posted by fartknocker at 10:40 AM on April 29, 2010


I'd heard of those wasps before, but never seen one. They are fucking evil. No wonder they turned Richard Dawkins into an atheist.

I think you're confusing Dawkins and Darwin.
posted by jedicus at 11:17 AM on April 29, 2010


Yeah, those wasps have nothing on the fungus that TAKES OVER YOUR BRAIN and makes the ants climb up as high as they can before the spores erupt from their living bodies.
posted by Justinian at 11:43 AM on April 29, 2010


Cordyceps fungus. Get some for your own brain here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:14 PM on April 29, 2010


No thanks, the Toxoplasma gondii already in there might not like the competition.
posted by Justinian at 3:33 PM on April 29, 2010


So basically, any science fiction author who wants to include aliens with really bizarre gender configurations just has to look at nature. Awesome.
posted by bettafish at 5:12 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Toxoplasmosis virus in cat shit is suspected to alter human brain function. It makes rats seek cats, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2010


I take the cordyceps to get over my fear of heights. Two capsules and I'm ready to climb a tree.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:01 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


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