Friday, March 28, 2008

Echinoderms are so much cooler than Molluscs (or why Craig McClain is off his rocker)

So, I go away on vacation for a few days and upon my return, as I am catching up on all my favorite blogs, I'm blindsided by the outbreak of war. And not your typical war either, but a vicious series of unprovoked and uncalled for attacks (Ok, maybe it is like a typical war). It seems that Dr. Craig R. McClain of Deep Sea News has thrown down the gauntlet by making a series of scathing posts concerning his erroneous belief that molluscs are somehow cooler than echinoderms. Now I just cannot stand for this. Especially after reading about how the molluscan radula is deemed one of the reasons this phylum is so cool compared to the echinodermata. I'm sorry, but Craig must not be thinking clearly. The radula? A spiky ribbon makes molluscs cool? Please. Don't waste your time, Craig. If we're going to be comparing feeding apparatuses (apparati?) of molluscs and echinoderms, your precious mantle-wearing protostomes don't stand a chance. Echinoderms utilize one of, if not the, coolest feeding mechanism in the animal kingdom - Aristotle's Lantern.

First off, few structures in living organisms have as cool a name as "Aristotle's Lantern" - this structure was described by Aristotle in his Historia Animalium written around 343 BC. Second off, it is an "architectural marvel"1, consisting of a complex of "50 skeletal elements and worked by 60 muscles"2. The structure contains a set of five calcareous pyramids, each with a canal where a long, sharp tooth lies and protrudes outside the oral cavity. The teeth can be protracted and spread apart through the constriction muscles that push the entire lantern orally. Retraction of the "jaw" involves another set of muscles. Yet other muscles can produce swivel and rocking movement of the teeth and lantern apparatus. I'm sorry, but a radula cannot compete with this.

It is hard to comprehend the complexity and coolness of Aristotle's Lantern without seeing one in person, but here are a few images to help you:

Sorry Craig, but you've got no case here. Get that weak-ass radula crap outa my house.


Kevin Zelnio said...

You ain't pulling yer punches there Lemire! Too bad you are dead wrong.

Jim Lemire said...

Whatever, Barnacle Boy

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Indeed, there is also the beak of the squid to consider, not to mention the other dangly bits.

PS If you really want to impress us, write about pedicillaria.

Anonymous said...