he's not your man. he's a giant deep sea isopod.
March 14, 2019 9:48 AM   Subscribe

What happens when you drop a dead alligator in the darkest depths of the Gulf of Mexico? It’s not a question that has plagued many scientists, but it has plagued at least one – Craig McClain, a marine biologist and executive director of the Louisiana University Marine Consortium. McClain wanted to see what unfolded if he introduced a rare calorie-rich reptile to the abyssal seafloor, a dark and nearly lifeless place with little food for the few critters dwelling there. So last month, McClain and a team of LUMCON researchers plopped three adult alligator carcasses, each seven to eight feet long, into the Gulf, where they sunk to depths of more than a mile. They then deployed a live-feed video camera to cover the action. (via bibliogrrl)

"The field of isopod gastronomy is a new one, and diners’ palates are yet to become so bored with the ingredient that they demand novelty or experimentation in how it’s prepared. As such, the chef simply tossed the isopod into a pan of oil and fried it. Isopods cook quickly, and after taking Momo’s out of the pan, the chef added a dash of salt and seasonings..." We learn about the deep sea isopod, then eat one!

Livetweeting an isopod dissection at LUMCON!

18 Awesome Facts About Giant Isopods

Giant Isopods Ate My Well-Known Brand of Corn Chip (off the no-longer available album Songs About Giant Isopods)
posted by ChuraChura (34 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man for my money you can never get too much of this sorta thing.

Tickles the same morbid fancy as the badger burying the cow.

Now I want a giant isopod of my own.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:57 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]

I’ve always been perplexed how some people are horrified by cute little rolly-polly wood lice but it is definitely a thing. The giant isopod, though... I guess I’m starting to see it.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:05 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

I understand that researchers may attempt to replicate the study with test subjects from the Crocodylinae family.

Sea bugs ate yer Alligator… In a while, Crocodile.
posted by zamboni at 10:10 AM on March 14 [9 favorites]

Sushi Chef Hiroyuki Terada has done isopod a few times. (Warning: videos are graphic)
posted by xmattxfx at 10:17 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]

I see a resemblance to trilobites, especially if isopods die on their backs or the upper shells are weaker than the understructure, when it comes to fossilization. Blessed are these meek for they shall inherit the seas, nature's erasers, yes-like the badger clean up squad. 🐊🐠🐊🐟
posted by Oyéah at 10:21 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]

I hate to be that guy, but is reminding the deep sea eldrich horrors of the deliciousness of the surface dwellers a good idea? This is how you get shoggoths.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:24 AM on March 14 [49 favorites]

Finally, I know what I want done with my body when I’m dead. BRB, updating health care directives.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:25 AM on March 14 [13 favorites]

get you a man that can skeletonize a dead alligator in a matter of hours
posted by murphy slaw at 10:30 AM on March 14 [14 favorites]

You eat those gators, you little rolly polly babies!

God, I love giant isopods. They're so hideous and so adorable at the same time.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:31 AM on March 14 [8 favorites]

Giant isopods just look like the lobster tails to me. Lobsters really are just near-shore sea bugs that we happen to think are delicious!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:43 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]

We learn about the deep sea isopod, then eat one!


No, really, that's the sound I just made. I skipped through the video to see the relevant cooking and prep parts but I lost it and started involuntarily making AGGGHHH noises once the chewing started. I genuinely didn't even know I made those specific noises in that way.

That might be a record for me closing a YouTube tab. Apparently I have a highly specific case of misophonia that only gets activated when someone starts gnawing on a whole fried isopod. I am perturbed.

I even think giant isopods are kind of cute but I don't know about that any more. Every time I see pictures of big ones I'm going to think of someone... chewing on it.... gaaaaahhh.

This does bring me to an interestingly horrible use for all this in fiction.

Imagine when one of the Eldritch Old Ones rises towering from the deep that it has giant isopods plaguing it like so many sand fleas, clinging to all the dark folds and masses, skittering around the Leviathan's enormous city-sized body and tentacles among the strings of kelp and barnacles. As the Old One crawls or walks on land, the giant bugs are falling from it... scurrying forth to feed in the thousands.

And worse, they do the Old One's bidding and it can command them to swarm.
posted by loquacious at 10:48 AM on March 14 [9 favorites]

Giant isopods are also an excellent choice for protecting your phone.
posted by wordless reply at 11:00 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]

I have the largest one of these giant isopod plush.

Its shiny black eyes are so reflective, cheerful, and friendly! Whiskers can be pointed up or down for a casual or more active pose! And, you can hide things, like dime bags or credit cards, between the soft and pettable "chitinous" plates!

Makes a great arm rest or occasional head pillow, or just cuddle with it while drifting away to your dreams of the deep, deep sea.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:02 AM on March 14 [11 favorites]

As someone who is fearful of the ocean because of imagined scary things, this does not work for me at all.
posted by InkaLomax at 11:04 AM on March 14 [10 favorites]

Want to tell males from females? Look for the peenies.

NO thank you so very much.
posted by Splunge at 11:22 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

I think I could more easily be convinced to eat another kind of sea bug (yeah, yeah, crustacean, I know but it's still an arthropod!) than land bugs. But I suppose deep sea bug fishing is less sustainable than land bug farming.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:26 AM on March 14

loquacious, I didn't watch the movie, but by osmosis I believe this is a plot point in _Cloverfield_, the monster shedding parasites as it invades NYC.
posted by tavella at 11:28 AM on March 14 [7 favorites]

Speaking of isopods, the author of the article tweeted this yesterday:
"My favorite isopod is Cymothoa exigua, the 'tongue biter.' It pretends to be food, but once swallowed by a fish, the isopod eats its tongue and thereafter functions as the fish's tongue. Also, if it's a boy, it must change into a girl before it can change into a fish tongue." (the Tweet has a photo).

Wikipedia on this species: "It is likely that juveniles first attach to the gills of a fish and become males. As they mature, they become females, with mating likely occurring on the gills. If there is no female present, within a pair of two males, one male can turn into a female after it grows ..."
posted by exogenous at 11:43 AM on March 14 [10 favorites]

Pretty sure there was a bit in Pacific Rim about parasites harvested from the kaiju.
posted by emjaybee at 1:25 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:32 PM on March 14

I was once gutting a red snapper & discovered that its tongue had been replaced by a Cynthia exigua. Scared the shit out of me...
posted by pharm at 2:16 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]

Livetweeting an isopod dissection at LUMCON!

From that thread:

Um. @seagrifo brought *bolt cutters* to the party: "crustaceans protect their soft parts underneath their hard parts"

I applaud the initative here. My heavy-duty poultry shears are the best lobster tool I own. This is just the next logical step.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:57 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]

I was once gutting a red snapper & discovered that its tongue had been replaced by a Cynthia exigua

“Cynthia” would be a good name for use in a vaguely post-Lovecraftean story for the shy girl from the tiny, remote seaside village, whose eyes/face/complexion look subtly wrong...

Is there a ranking anywhere of common personal names which are also the Linnaean taxonomical names of creatures, ordered by the creatures' potential horrificity?
posted by acb at 3:03 PM on March 14 [5 favorites]

Is there a ranking anywhere of common personal names which are also the Linnaean taxonomical names of creatures, ordered by the creatures' potential horrificity?

Regnum Cronenbergeum?

Classis 7, Lovecraftia?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:06 PM on March 14

From the article about cooking them:
Finally, it was time for Momo to dig in! Except, just how are you supposed to eat these things?

“If the shell seems hard, you can take it off,” explained one of the attendants, but Momo is far too proper to dirty her fingertips in such an unladylike manner. So instead, she gripped the body and bit into the head.
...why would one expect that to work any better than just biting into a lobster or crab? Or crayfish. Even shrimp, with their comparatively delicate shells, would be unpleasant that way.
posted by Lexica at 3:36 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]

Yeah I'm kind of not down with chewing on chitin.
posted by loquacious at 4:05 PM on March 14

How about chitin bitin’?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:17 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]

I really want one of those giant isopod plushies - it's been on my Amazon wishlist for nearly three years now, and yet no-one has bought it for me yet. I wonder why?
posted by Fuchsoid at 4:53 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]

It would take a gallon of hot wine, butter and garlic to drown/cook one of those.
posted by Oyéah at 4:57 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

Once you've got a gallon of hot wine, butter and garlic, why bother with the isopod.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:42 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]

There didn’t seem to be nearly enough meat in them to make the prep worth the trouble. I didn’t like the bit I jumped ahead to in one of the videos where they were cutting it apart while seems to be still alive... needlessly cruel.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:17 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]

exogenous - Cymothoa exigua: Charles Stross' The Apocalypse Codex (book 4 of 'The Laundry Files') posits exactly that, but for people.

And penises instead of tongues. Yes, the 'Laundry Files' gleefully borrow from the Lovecraftian tradition without any of the baggage.

The Chef Hiroyuki Terada videos that xmattxfx are fantastic! There's more meat than I thought based on Craig McClain's comments on 'just enough muscle' and his observation of "old fried chicken and cheap fake seafood." Isopod added on my list of things I want to try.

Yeah, Momo trying to crunch down on a whole isopod seems kind of ill-thought. I wonder how much of it is willful ignorance? Like, is it a thing to pretend to be thoughtless to try to be cute? The meat:garbage:armour ratio is probably the worst of all arthropods.

In case anyone's interested, an open access Frontiers in Neuroanatomy paper with some nice fluorescent confocal imaging of a Saduria entomon Linnaeus, 1758 (Valvifera, Isopoda)'s brain. They show some gross anatomy stuff for reference and explains their interpretations pretty well.

Cool thing they discovered is that S. entomon likely retains olfactory capabilities unlike their look-alike terrestrial cousins.

Makes total sense - how else are you going to find marine snow in the absence of light except from following the shedate chemical gradient drifting from it?
posted by porpoise at 8:56 PM on March 14

Giant isopods are also an excellent choice for protecting your phone

Really? Ever since I got mine I keep thinking my phone's been bugged.
posted by flabdablet at 7:24 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

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