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Uncoiling the cucumber's enigma: Researchers discover a biological mechanism for coiling
Wittig Albert at the Texas Book Festival. Great Women Mystery Writers 2nd ed. Greenwood Press. August 23, Archived from the original on April 12, Retrieved April 3, October 2, New York: Berkley Prime Crime. Nancy Drew. Namespaces Article Talk.
Views Read Edit View history. And there are few better shelters than sea cucumbers, little mobile homes that pearlfishes will enter pretty much as they please, leaving to hunt and returning for protection. It then must choose the right end to enter, using its lateral line — sensory organs that detect movements in water — to home in on the outflow from the respiratory tree at the anus.
But the host has to breathe, so it has to dilate the anus to realize the water flow. The fish blocks the aperture and the host has to enlarge this opening more and more. The sea cucumber, though, has a trick up its sleeve. Remarkably, it can regenerate complex body parts like intestines and, yes, gonads.
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So you have a crab or a fish or something and what they'll do is literally eviscerate, just take a good chunk of their intestine that will spool out of their body and get shot out at the predator or whatever as a distraction. So like a disgraced samurai disemboweling himself , the sea cucumber gifts the world with its intestines, whether the world wants them or not. Some sea cucumber species even go beyond firing their intestines at predators. They're equipped with hundreds of Cuvierian tubules — sticky, toxic tubes that spray out of the cloaca an all-purpose opening in creatures like birds and reptiles and some invertebrates that releases both waste and reproductive elements , clinging to attackers and immobilizing them.
Yet not only does the pearlfish fail to trip this defense when it enters the sea cucumber, it seems to be immune to its toxins while occupying the host, which Parmentier says may be attributable to the unusual amount of mucous coating the fish's body. You have teeth in your head, but some sea cucumbers have them in their bum.
- Uncoiling the cucumber's enigma: Researchers discover a biological mechanism for coiling.
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Imagine, if you will, the life of a sea cucumber dentist. But the sea cucumber may not be entirely defenseless against the invasions of the pearlfish.
Susan Wittig Albert - Wikipedia
Some species have what could be functioning as a built-in gate in their anus — a handy accessory considering that in addition to the pearlfish, crabs and clams have also been known to make themselves at home inside the poor critters the sea cucumber, it seems, like any good host, can never really enjoy itself at its own party.
Hat tip to Oceans IQ for suggesting this week's critter. Browse the full Absurd Creature of the Week archive here. Have an animal you want me to write about? Parmentier, E.
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