Dec 12, 2007

One Small Corner

My buddy Alan sent me this link to a Time article. It seems that we've plumbed the depths of the sea a bit deeper and dredged up another 700 new species, including carnivorous sponges (I love it!) and ... much to my horror ... a marine spider. There is so, so much we don't know about our own planet.

Can I not have at least one small corner of the planet to myself where I won't be beset by arachnids? Maybe I'll take up residence inside a volcano to be rid of them. But knowing my luck, some nosey biology student would come along and discover a magma spider and I'd have to find a new home.

The ONLY redeeming quality of the deep sea spider (see the Antarctic male pycnogonid below) is that it seems to be the one to carry the egg sac around. As a father myself, I can relate. I would still squash it with my shoe...scuba fin...if it came too close, but I can admire it from afar.

Thanks for the link, Alan. Our mutual arachnophobia may drive us from the sea (I say as I sigh and wistfully set aside my scuba gear for the last time...).

Photo source: Time


Wudas said...

I'm not sure I would even recognize it as a spider. It looks like sticks with fungus on it. I wonder how big it is?

Anonymous said...

This little guy looks awfully familiar to a Nymphon, or "sea spider" from the Class Pycnogonida. Must be a close relative!

Danielle Lea said...

Oh blech. Just another place to avoid...not that I would be in the depths of the I guess it doesn't matter!

Christopher Taylor said...

Despite the name, sea spiders or pycnogonids are very different animals from the terrestrial spiders, not closely related at all. They're actually not uncommon world-wide, though most of the shallow water species don't get very big (some of the deep-water Antarctic ones are huge).

Jade said...

That's awesome! Where can I find more info on these critters (especially that sponge!)?

Arachnophile said...

What are the chances? Once again I'm wishing I'd sent you info on one of the coolest animals I know sooner.

Yes, these are pycnogonids also known as sea-spiders and they are BEYOND harmless to you, dear Wombat, even if you were

diving at depth where they lived. If you EVER managed to dive and see a pycnogonid I would be so jealous! It’s on my list of Things to Do Before I Die. It’s at the bottom of the list for reasons of realism but heck, I saw a sea-pen on a field trip for an undergrad invert class so you NEVER KNOW!

That being said, I understand that may not be a comfort when it comes to arachnophobia. ;) Er, or should we call that Octophobia? I mean, is it anything with 8 legs or just something with 8 legs and an exosceleton. Your readers want to know! ;-p

To Jade: If you Google "pycnogonid," you get some very good sites. I’m sure you’ve thought of that so feel free to ignore me. Also, any marine invertebrate text, worth it's weight (which is often a lot) will have a good section on these amazing creatures. :)

I'm so PUMPED to see them here. I really am. Just when I think that something I love is TO UGLY or TO obscure, you surprise me.

jenjen said...

The link to Time indicates these are from a Nature paper in May 2007. I just took a quick look and it's Nature, in the May 17 2007 issue, pp 307-311. Title: "First insights into the biodiversity and biogeography of the Southern Ocean deep sea." First author: Angelika Brandt. The name of the carnivorous sponge genus is Chondrocladia. Yore pal, Jenny the liberrian.

Nonexistant Black Feather said...

Speaking of spiders and scuba fins... I was out with some research divers and there was a huge bridge orb weaver crawling on the boat. The nearest diver tried to squish it with the closest thing available, her fin, and it succeeded very grossly. tons of those spiders on the boats, and of course they end up on my car, too. *sigh*