Wednesday, January 7, 2009

10 Creatures, Each One Step Short of an Alien Life Form

Anyone here like diving? Maybe you'll meet one of these ceatures when you go diving next time. Or maybe you've already met them but it's just that you don't know them. They're really beautiful,take a look=)

1. Leafy Sea Dragon

A leafy sea dragon (phycodurus eques) has long leaf-like protrusions all over its body, serving as camouflage among different types of floating seaweeds or kelp beds. Neither prey nor predators recognize it as a fish.

It's found along the coastline of Australia; a fully grown leafy sea dragon can reach about 45cm (18in). During mating, the female deposits up to 250 bright pink eggs onto a special "brood patch" on the underside of the tail of the male where they are attached and fertilized.

2. Umbrella Mouth Gulper Eel
Here is a creature from the underwater gates of hell.

The umbrella mouth gulper eel (eurypharynx pelecanoides) can open its "umbrella mouth" to pelican-like proportion, accommodating prey much larger than its size.

Plus it can stretch and expand its stomach! The eel itself can be almost one meter in length, and if it starts expanding... This means it can swallow and devour something more than 1.5 meters long (keep your favorite cat away from it)

3. Firefly Squid
This squid sees the world in color. And it makes deep-blue pretty light itself.

The firefly squid (watasenia scintillans), also called the sparkling enope squid has special deep-blue light producing organs called photophores - by flashing the lights on and off, it can attract prey before trapping it with its tentacles. It's also only cephalopod species which have color vision!

Each year off the coast of Toyama Bay, Japan, billions of these tiny squids will gather to spawn, creating a cool lights show, see above. Boiled firefly squids is also a common food item in Asia:

4. Viperfish
Now we come to the section featuring deep sea beauties. Hold on to your breakfast, these guys are uglier than the current American stock market situation.

The viperfish (chauliodus sloani) can grow to over half a meter in size... which is simply NOT a comforting thought. Again, it attracts its prey with luminescent spots running from throat to tail... and attracts curious humans, who can not refrain from sticking a finger in its jaws to see what happens.

Luckily for everybody involved, it can go without food for days. Beware of the sharp fangs, even if it's dead -

Are you ready for another nauseating shot? We warned you... Here is an angler fish - with its stomach in its mouth (decompression caused the stomach to invert).

The male who is a lot smaller than the female bites into her and he actually becomes fused to the female for the rest of his life. In deep water environments this allows them to have a higher success rate in breeding where finding a mate can be difficult"

5. Fangtooth, or Ogre Fish
Winner of the Deep Abyss Beauty Contest last year.

A Fangtooth (anoplogaster cornuta), or ogre fish, dwells mostly in the waters off the coast of Australia... by the way, the waters off Australia seem to teem with all kinds of monsters. It may be ferocious-looking, but it's actually quite small - a maximum length of 17cm.

Its head contains several mucous cavities separated by serrated ridges (I like how this sentence sounds). Its lower teeth are engineered to neatly slide into mouth pockets, when the fish decides to close the gaping jaw (see photo to prove it here)

It is one of the deepest living organisms found yet; it seems to enjoy water temperatures near freezing state. And no, it does not like you, either.

6. Hatchetfish
A hatchetfish has extremely thin body, resembling the blade of a hatchet, and tubular large eyes that are permanently fixed looking upwards - this helps them to search for food falling from above. It also gives them a psychotic look, with eyes rolled up and stuck there.

These guys only look ugly. Inside them hides a gentle, forgiving soul, desperately wanting to cuddle up... yea, right.

7. Christmas-Tree Worm
Here is something beautiful to feast your eyes on.

The christmas-tree worm (spirobranchus giganteus) is a small polychaete worm most often found in the Black Forest Reef and other reefs near Grand Turk.

They hide in the tubes, stick out their heads, and when threatened, pull their heads back into the tube. The feather-like tentacles resembling twin "Christmas trees" are called radioles - they filter the plankton for food, aid in respiration, and allow this worm to sing Christmas carols, very very softly.

8. Giant Basket Star
A tangled wonder among the reefs. Just don't ask what's inside of it.

The giant basket star (astrophyton muricatum) is an early Mesozoic invertebrate, often found around British Virgin Islands.

During the day, it curls up into a tight ball shape to protect itself from predators. At night, it climbs to an elevated point to feed on plankton by extending its intricately-branched feeding arms in a bowl-like shape. Then, it coils around its prey and the tiny hooks along the length of these arms will prevent its prey from escaping. Sounds like a healthy "Blob" feeding habits.

9. Furry Sea Cucumber
If it's not furry, and it's not a cucumber, then what on Earth is it?

The furry sea cucumber (astichopus multifidus) can be seen crawling or rolling over the sea floor of the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Florida. If you tear it to pieces trying to find out what on Earth is it, it would not really mind. They can regenerate their body tissues... potentially filling the ocean floor with furry cucumbers - what a thought.

The "Furry Cucumber" name, somehow, perfectly fits this deeply Salvador Dali-esque creature.

And finally, perhaps the prettiest of them all -

10. Flamingo Tongue Snail
Flamingos don't have a tongue like that, in case you were wondering.

(images credit: Laszlo Ilyes and Courtney Platt)

The flamingo tongue snail (cyphoma gibbosumn) is a small, colorful sea snail which lives on various species of soft corals in the Caribbean.

This creature almost-literally wears its heart (soul and colors) on its sleeve... -

The pretty color you see in these images - is not in snail's shell! Rather, it's in a layer of live mantle tissue, connected to its foot - the snail pushes it out to cover the shell. The mantle tissue also works like a fish's gill.

When the snail is attacked, the mantle (and colors) are withdrawn. So you might say, this is the only marine animal that literally turns pale in fright.

(image credit: Doug Finney)

And they're only beautiful (with all that color) while they're alive. The dead ones are just ugly white shells...


PillowNaut said...

How beautiful! I love these creatures, and saw one up close once in the Georgia Aquarium. Truly amazing :) Those are some pretty nasty viperfish though...

xb said...

yo,beautiful man.
i hope someone get it for me,heihei

Anonymous said...

I recently remarked how amazing our world is where plants and animals resemble each other. this totally bears out what i said. WOW!

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