Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Circus of the Spineless

Welcome to the March edition of the Circus of the Spineless. Yeah, yeah, I know it's April already....give me a break. If Major League Baseball wants to say that the Red Sox season began a week ago, I can say this is the March edition.

Actually, this moth's celebration of all things spineless couldn't have come at a better time. With the blogosphere currently embroiled in the Invertebrate Battle Royal, what better time to bring us all together in the spirit of peace and harmony, united behind our wonder and love for the entirety of invertebrate diversity, to stand arm in arm, putting our petty differences aside to celebrate the natural world to stick it the mollusc camp and prove once and for all the superiority of the echinoderms and all things unmolluscan (well, maybe not all things unmolluscan)? What can I say, I'm a divider, not a unifier. Forces are being divvied up and what was once a simple Holothoroidea vs. Mollusca battle is becoming a war between the all-mighty, wicked cool deuterostomes and the pathetic protostomes. Yes, I said wicked cool. Choose your allegiances wisely - no one likes a turncoat.

With a dearth of submissions a day ago, this was looking like it was going to be an all-urchin carnival, but a flurry of emails over the past 24 hours has beefed it up considerably, though predictably heavy on the arthropod front. It is possible that some submissions were inadvertently dumped by my spam filter - if so, I apologize. Unless they were about molluscs. On an only tangentially related note, in honor of Gibbon Jockey, I'd like to nominate the Indiana men's basketball team as the spineless champion of the month.

Now on to the Circus.

Phylum Echinodermata:

  • Kevin Zelnio, in a moment of sanity that he later renounces, gives us a great post about how the remarkable ability of sea cucumbers to quickly change the stiffness of their skin by rearranging collagen nanofibers has inspired some far-thinking scientists to use this biological marvel to help treat Parkinson's. How cool is that? Man, those echinoderms never cease to amaze.

  • In anticipation of a short vacation to the Domincan Republic, yours truly offered up a post on the remarkable sea urchin Diadema antillarum and the fate that has befallen it. And speaking of ultra-cool echinoderms, you can also find my foray into the Battle Royal with a brief description of the coolest feeding structure in all of Animaldom. And while I'm self-promoting, check out this urchin-themed music video I found. Does calamari have such a thing? I think not!

  • Phylum Urochordata:
  • Jumping in on the deuterostome side of the war is Miriam at The Oyster's Garter (what an unfortunately blog name) with her delineation of all the cool things about tunicates
  • .

    Phylum Cnidaria:
  • Reporting on a phylum only slightly less cool than Echinodermata (but light-years ahead of those bilateral molluscan schmucks), Rick of Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, and Sunsets reports on yet another threat to the increasingly-vulnerable corals - other corals.

  • Phylum Annelida:
  • Budak needs some help IDing this polychaete. Nice photo.

  • Phylum Endoprocta:
  • Christopher at Catalogue of Organisms gets his first look at the endoprocts. Personally, I haven't had the privilege, but based on Christopher's description I can tell they're way cooler than molluscs.

  • Phylum Arthropoda:
    Class Insecta
  • Duncan has a very nice journal-like account of a dragonfly expedition - part 1, part 2. The description and details provided by Duncan make you feel like you're there. And best of all, not a snail in sight!

  • Both Ed at Not Exactly Rocket Science and John at a DC Birding Blog discuss how moths can remember lessons learned as a caterpillar. Yes, that's right, moths retain memories from their larval stages.

  • Doug at Gossamer Tapestry makes a case for considering addding the Swamp Metalmark to the endangered species list.

  • RPM at evolgen explains that sleep-deprived male Drosophila are less interested in sex than their well-rested counterparts. The question I have though is how does one deprive fruit vinegar flies of sleep?

  • Susannah (AKA Wanderin' Weeta) offers up some tips on photographing carpet beetles and wonders if they get hangovers. To quote Susannah from her email, "Not a mollusc, fortunately." See, Wanderin' Weeta gets it.

  • Budak offers us two poetic insect posts. First on the Diptera-like Bembix wasp and another on the softer side of assassin bugs. You should definitely follow the image links to his Flickr account for some wonderful images.

  • Rurality gives us some pics of and musings on the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Must be nice to have insects flitting about flowers this time of year. Tomorrow's forecast here is for a balmy 37oF!

  • Jenn at Invasive Species Weblog wisely stays clear of sending me any of her mussel posts. Instead, she paraphrases one of my favorite Good Will Hunting lines in a report on the Apple Moth and its likely lack of invasive potential here in the U.S. She also sent along a photo of a member of one of the coolest groups of insects - the Prodoxidae or yucca moths (my grad work was on the population genetics of yuccas and yucca moths, so I may be a bit biased)

  • Class Arachnida
  • Troy over at Ramblings Around Texas has a brief introduction to spiders in general and wolf and orb-weaving spiders in particular. Be sure to click on the images for some stunning shots.

  • Class Malacostraca
  • Ed joined the Great Invertebrate War with his post on the phenomenal vision of the mantis shrimp. I guess mantis shrimp are pretty a thuggish, Whitey Bulger sort of way - check out the video at the end of Ed's post to see a mantis shrimp terrorizing fellow crustaceans. Not just spineless, but heartless, I tell you.

  • Andrea was buzzing about her garden during the vernal solstice equinox this year, but only managed to find some roly-poly pill bugs. For some reason, these guys have always grossed me out. I can't even imagine carrying them around in my pockets.

  • Phylum Mollusca:
  • Kevin Z has some drivel about snail mucus as a wonder cure for wrinkly skin. See, aren't molluscs just the coolest? Pah-lease.

  • Budak highlights how to catch octopus in Singapore. So much for the supposed brainiacs of the spineless. Stupid molluscs. (note: as always with Budak's posts, be sure to follow the links for some nice photos)

  • In what I can only fathom was an attempt to be true to his blog's title (why else would an intelligent person blog about molluscs?), Christopher at the Catalogue of Organisms, gives us a description of those quirky gastropods, the struthiolariids, aka "ostrich foot shells". Man, nothing cooler than snails named after, yet lacking any resemblance to, the appendages of large flightless birds. If this doesn't prove Craig's case, I don't know what will.

  • Well, that's all folks. Hopefully, I've managed to do my part in the Great Invertebrate War and convinced all of you how uncool molluscs are. If not, you can send your rebuttal to the April edition of the Circus to be hosted by Deep Sea News - you're sure to find a sympathetic ear there. On a another note, I'll be hosting the April edition of Linnaeus' Legacy in a few days or so, so send me your posts!


    Anonymous said...

    what a wonderful Circus, even if i'm a malacologist . . .

    tony gallucci
    Circus moderator!

    Kevin Zelnio said...

    Jim, why you gotta be a hater? lol

    Great job, despite the blatant prejudices...

    Jennifer Forman Orth said...

    Why do I have this irresistable desire to scream "MUSSEL MUSSEL MUSSEL"??? ;-)

    (prepares for comment to get deleted)

    Unknown said...

    IU hoops thanks the academy for this great award and it's chairman Captain jim.

    Mollusks taste better, so they win. :(

    Texas Travelers said...

    They all taste good if they're deep-fried Southern Style.

    Great job on the Circus. Well laid out and "taxonomized". :-)

    Anonymous said...

    Screw your deep fried southern style. If it weren't for the minutemen we'd be calling those things "chips" and bowing to the queen.

    Instead, we get the glory of deep-fried twinkies and ten gallon hats. Thanks for nuthin' texas.

    Anonymous said...

    and yes, that's a little 't' in texas bitch, deal with it.

    tryin' to tell me how to eat my mollusc, why I outta...

    Doug Taron said...

    Great Circus, Jim. Thanks for stopping by my place and commenting on my non-molluscan postings.

    Texas Travelers said...

    What's the matter Anonymous? Ashamed of your name?

    It was supposed to be a joke. Why ruin a good post with smears?

    Didn't your mother ever tell you to play nice?

    I forgive you and pray for you.

    Anonymous said...

    I beg to differ with you on your nomination for Spineless champion of the Month, you failed to recognize the largest group of Spineless in the country, The current group down in Washington DC
    certianly qualifies as spineless champion of the month, maybe even year, or decade...etc

    Anonymous said...

    This is great info to know.