Archive for August, 2010

linneus longissimusYou may think that the longest animal in the world is the blue whale with its incredible 33 meters long. Maybe you can think on the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, with its amazing 36 meters long tentacles. Or, if you include creatures from the past, you could think on some diplodocus  like dinosaur, with no less than 60 meters from head to tail. But actually the longest living creature in the world is a simple and fragile worm.

The Bootlace Worm (Lineus Longissimus) its a worm from the family of nemertean. All of them are identifiable by the harpoon like tentacle they have near the mouth and which they use to sting or trap little preys to feed. These creatures are common in Britannic coasts. They can be found in sandy or muddy beaches, or ever hidden between rocks or corals. 

They are only 1 cm thick, but despite this, they easily reach 30 meters long. Some specimens of 55 meters have been founded. More than this, their bodies are so flexible that it has been calculated that stretched it could overcome the 60 meters long.

But despite this amazing size, this creature is inoffensive and really fragile. Its only defense is a kind of mucus of pungent and disagreeable smell.

Why a creature reaches such size? Size is always an advantage against predators. Also, when you combine a simple and sedentary way of life (like just sit and wait for preys) with a big lifespan, you can get creatures like this. But all these are just suppositions, the real reason for this worm to be like this, is a mystery.


Where does Red Tides come from?

Red Tides are a hugely common phenomena on south pacific waters. Each year news talk about people sick and even dead because of eating seafood infested by Red Tides. But, what are Red Tides?

I introduce to you, the Dinoflagellates. These creatures are among the most common beings you can find in the plancton. With more than a thousand species, these microscopic plants and their companions, the Diatomeas, are like the grass which almost all the vegetarian sea animals  eat.

But, some of these species are poisonous. Not for the animals who eat them, but for humans who eat these animals. When the ambiental conditions get optimal for them (more than enought sunlight and nutrients on water), these creatures multiply by billions, painting the waters on red, yellow, green, and even blue. (the color of the Chlorophila inside them) and there is when the situation became dangerous.

Fish in these conditions die because the Dinoflagellates get stuck in their gills and suffocate them. Mollusks doesn’t show any kind of simptomes. BUT, if you eat a single molluks infested with Red Tides without boiling it enought, you can espect tree kind of reactions (each one of them caused by the venom of a different Dinoflallelate specie):



-Paralisis and then dead

The first two cases are just unconfortable, but in the third, you just have a few minutes to get to a hospital before your breath system get paralised. So, how can we avoid this dangers? Simply, buy always seafood from authorised commerces, and ALWAYS boil it before eating. Lemon and vinagre doesn’t neutralize the venoms. These simple habits could save you from terrible consequences.  <–Version en Espanol (Spanish Version)

The Assassin Snail

New Zealand, the South Island. A humid forest near de Augustus Mount. After a bit of rain, an earth worm goes out from its refuge just to take a bit of air, and maybe explore a new territory. No sings of birds or hedgehogs near. All seems safe. Suddenly, a movement takes the attention of the worm. Seems to be the movements of a snail, nothing to fear of.

But, this snail is different, is a really big one, with a dark shell and black body, the snail approach the unsuspected worm, open its mouth, and in a flash movement, sucks the worm as if it were an spaghetti. This is, the New Zealand Giant Snail.

This creatures live only in this little part of the world and, despite their amazing characteristics, they are now in danger. Their habitat has been owned by a mining company, and all the known specimens has been taken in captivity or moved to a new territory by conservationist organizations. And, despite there are movements now fighting for saving them, their future is uncertain.

Useful links:

The ECO Site

Version en Español (Spanish Version)