Monday, December 27, 2010

The Monarch Butterfly by Chandler Spearman

                                                  The Monarch Butterfly                                                                                                            Figure 1

I.    Introduction
The monarch butterfly is the most popular butterfly in North America. Its in the phylum Arthropoda and its in the family Nymphalidae. In North America, the Monarch ranges from southern Canada to northern South America. It rarely strays to Western Europe, as far as Greece, from being transported by U. S. ships or by flying there if weather and wind conditions are right. It has also been found in Bermuda, Hawaii, the Solomon’s, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, India, and the Canary Islands.

II.    Anatomy
The Monarch’s wingspan ranges from 3.5- 4in. Both the upper and lower side of the wings are a shade of orange, the veins and margins are black, and in those margins are a series of small white spots. You can tell the difference between males and females because males are larger and the veins on its wings are narrower then females. The male has a black patch of scales that are responsible for dispersing pheromones (A chemical secreted by an animal that influences the behavior or development of other members of the same species) on the hind wings. Like all insects it has six legs but, it carries its front two legs against its body.
                                                                         Figure 2
                                                                              Figure 3


III.    Form and Function
Cardenolide aglycones make’s the monarch butterfly disgusting to all of its predators. Caterpillars ingest this as they feed on milkweed. There bright color warns its predator of just how un-satisfying they are, this is called “aposematism.” Monarchs have been seen on a number of different nectar plants, males will also take in moisture and minerals from damp soil and wet gravel, which is a behavior called “mud-puddling.” This is a nectar-ingesting animal.
A monarchs mating period is in spring, and this animal has a “courting phase” and its split between the aerial phase and the ground phase. During the aerial phase, the male pursues, nudges, and eventually takes down the female. Copulation occurs during the ground phase where the male and female remain attached for 30 to 60 minutes.  A spermatophore is transferred from the male to the female.  The life cycle of a monarch is spread out through 4 different stages and this is called “complete metamorphosis.”
                                                                          Figure 4

IV.    Impact on the world/humanity
The monarch is the state insect of Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, and the state butterfly of Vermont and West Virginia. Many people like to grow a butterfly gardens to attract them with specific milkweeds. Others raise them for pleasure and mostly for educational purposes. The most impact it has on humanity is that for education.
                                                                         Figure 5

V.    Journal Entry

    This Journal entry talked about the famous 2,500- mile journey from Mexico to northern United States and America that these insects take every year.

Sipuncula By: Demi DeRose

Domain- Eukarya
Kingdom- Animalia
Subkingdom- Metazoa
Superphylum: Lophotrochozoa/ Mollusca
Genus: Phascolosoma
Phylum: Sipuncula
    -Class: Phascolosomatidea
        -Order: Aspidosiphoniformes
        -Family: Aspidosiphonidae
        -Order: Phascolosomatiformes
        -Family: Phascolosomatidae
    The Sipuncula, or peanut worms, are marine in cold and warm waters, and 320 species have been found in shallow waters.  Some of the worms burrow into sand and mud and also bore into solid rock and bone to make protection for themselves, while others live in discarded shells (for example, from a hermit crab). Certain species populate in mats of algae, in large sponges, or in the roots of sea grass and mangrove trees. The majority of Sipunculid worms are less than 10 centimeters long (but in some cases, grow up to 50 cm long). And found in intertidal pools, and inhabit the sea floor all around the world.

Figure 1

                                                                           Figure 2

                                                                             Figure 3


•    Body is divided: an unsegmented trunk & a narrower, retractable anterior section, "introvert" (long extendible proboscis)
•    Body wall is a non-ciliated epidermis, which is overlaid by an outer layer of circular and an inner layer of longitudinal muscle
•    Body wall surrounds coelom, the body cavity filled with fluid (acts as a hydrostatic skeleton)
•    Introvert retracts into the trunk when threatened, to look like a peanut( 6-7 cm stretched) (Retractable via 2 pairs of retractor muscles; Protruded from trunk by forcing the fluid in the body cavity forward)
•    Mouth is at anterior end of introvert
•    Tentacles at end of introvert
    -used to gather detritus from the water
    -hallow and extended by hydrostatic pressure
•    Hooks near mouth on introvert
                                                                             Figure 4

                                                                            Figure 5

                                                                             Figure 6

Form& Function:
    Digestive System- begins with the esophagus (between introvert retractor and muscles), the intestine is in the trunk of the Sipuncula body, and forms a loop, and turns again; gut becomes coiled and forms a double-helix. At the front end of the gut, the rectum emerges and ends in the anus. Diet mainly consists of detritus.

    Circulation System- NO BLOOD SYSTEM! the coelom transports fluid and gas exchange (by the respiratory pigment, haemerythrin, and the tentacles).

    Nervous System- A Nerve Ring (the cerebral ganglion) which functions as a brain, and 1 ventral nerve cord that is the length of the body. Contain ocelli (like light sensitive receptors)

    Reproductive System- Sipuncula worms reproduce sexually and asexually(less common).  Peanut Worms reproduce asexually by transverse fission which is followed by the regeneration of crucial body components.  They also reproduce sexually, and are considered dioecious.  Gametes are produced internally in the coelom lining, where they are stored and matured until released into the water where fertilization takes place.

Impact on the World/Humanity:
    The Sipuncula worms are very interesting species because there are very few species with an extending proboscis.

Journal Article:
    Sipuncula are commonly called peanut worms.  Only about 320 species have been found and described.  These worms live in all temperatures of water, but are mostly found in shallow waters. Depending on the species, they make their homes in the sand, in shells, or in crevices in rocks. 
    The Sipuncula body is unsegmented.  At the top of the introvert is the mouth, which is surrounded by a ring of tentacles.  The coelom is filled with free floating cells (hemerythroytes).  No true circulatory or respiratory system systems!   The coelom fluid transports nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body(nephridia filters the coelomic fluid). 

Introduction to the Sipuncula, by UCMP. (n.d.). UCMP - University of California Museum of Paleontology. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from
Peanut Worms: Sipuncula - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, No Common Name (sipunculus Nudus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, PEANUT WORMS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS    . (n.d.). Animal Life Resource. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from
Peanut worm. (n.d.). Race Rocks Ecological Reserve/Marine Protected Area. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from
Sipuncula - Encyclopedia of Life. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from
Sipuncula - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from
Sipuncula : Anatomy. (n.d.). 1000s of Museums Online : Retrieved December 9, 2010, from
Skeel, M. E. (n.d.). What are sipunculids (peanut worms)? (Invertebrate phylum Sipuncula) - by M E Skeel - Helium. Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lion's Mane Jellyfish!

C. capillata – Lion’s Mane Jellyfish!



Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Cnidaria

Class: Scyphozoa

Order: Semaeostomeae

Family: Cyaneidae

Genus: Cyanea

Species: C. capillata

C. capillata, more commonly known as the lion’s mane jellyfish, is the largest species of jellyfish known. It lives mainly in cold, northern waters of the Arctic, north Atlantic, and north Pacific, and cannot cope with warmer waters. They have a preference for surface waters (less than 20 meters deep), so you would be having a rather bad day if you were shivering your butt off in the ocean of the northern Atlantic only to then get stung by one of these critters. Their taxonomy is not completely agreed amongst zoologists; some think that all species within the genus should be considered as one. Lion’s mane jellyfish are given their name because their ostentatious tentacles remind one of a lion’s mane.


Lion’s mane jellyfish are capable of growing to a bell diameter of 8 feet, but they vary in size greatly, those found in lower latitudes are normally smaller than their northern counterparts (most likely due to the fact that the lion’s mane thrives in cold waters). Their tentacles can grow as long as 90 feet, and are very sticky. There are about 100 tentacles to a cluster. The bell is divided into eight lobes, making it look like an eight-pointed star. Each lobe possesses a cluster of 60 to 130 tentacles at the margin of its jelly-like body. A tangled and coloured arrangement of arms comes from the center of the bell. The size of the lion’s mane also dictates its coloring: larger types are often crimson or purple, whereas smaller ones are orange or tan.

Form and Function

The diet of the lion’s mane jellyfish consists typically of zooplankton, small fish, ctenophores, and moon jellies. The mouth opens into the gastrovascular cavity, which communicates with the tentacles. The mouth is surrounded by a number of oral arms that help in transporting the food to the mouth. Prey is drawn into the gastrovascular cavity, and gland cells discharge enzymes that enable extracellular digestion. Predators of the lion’s mane jellyfish include seabirds, large fish, and sea turtles. Their locomotion is enabled by contractions of the bell, which expel water from the oral side. These contractions are opposed by the compressed mesoglea and the elastic fibers with it. Generally, the jellyfish has to contract several times and then move upward before sinking slowly. The lion’s mane jellyfish does not have a nervous system (instead they have a nerve net, a complex of nerve cells that form two interconnected nerve nets), respiratory system, circulatory system, or an excretory system (ameboid cells carry undigested food particles to the gastrovascular cavity, where they are expelled with other indigestible substances). Lion’s mane jellyfish have four different stages in their life span of a year: a larva stage, a polyp stage, an ephyrae stage, and a medusa stage. They are capable of reproducing asexually in the polyp stage and sexually during the medusa stage. A female lion’s mane jellyfish carries fertilized eggs to a tentacle where they hatch into larvae. As the larvae mature, the mother deposits them on a surface where they grow into polyps. The polyps reproduce asexually, creating stacks of ephyrae. The ephyrae break off from their stacks, and they grow into medusa jellyfish. The lion’s mane jellyfish protects itself from predators by delivering a painful sting which can cause severe burns. They do this by using stinging cells called nematocysts which are located on their tentacles. Nematocysts inject venom into the victim, and the venom can remain alive even after it leaves the lion’s mane. Sometimes, even when the jellyfish is dead, it can still sting if there is moisture present in the


Impact on Humanity

Lion’s mane jellyfish are an important link in the marine food web, as they are food sources for some species of large fish, which are eaten by humans. Another impact is obvious: if a human were to aggravate a particularly hostile lion’s mane, their nematocysts could penetrate the skin and inflict serious damage. It is certainly not comforting to know that run-ins with lion’s mane jellyfishes are fairly common, especially when seasonal conditions boost their populations.

Primary Source Article

Swarms of lion’s mane jellyfish have been flocking to the British Cornwall coast, thought to be because of the flourishing numbers of plankton, a major part of the lion mane’s diet. The new arrivals pose a threat to tourists who wish to take a dip in the sea, as their toxic sting can cause muscle paralysis, which can lead to suffocation and a heart attack. Andy Pearson first spotted the invasion after being surrounded by over 200 lion’s mane jellyfish off the coast. Lion’s manes are not native to the Cornwall coast, but due to the dropping ocean temperature, have migrated there, as they feel at home in cold water. While spectacular to behold, Pearson warns, getting to close to a lion’s mane must be avoided, as they are amongst the more dangerous of jellyfish, even though the sting itself, although nasty, is not fatal.



Works Cited

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. (December 12, 2010). Retrieved from

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. (December 12, 2010). Retrieved from

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish – Cyanea capillata. (December 12, 2010). Retrieved from

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. (December 12, 2010). Retrieved from's_mane_jellyfish

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. (December 12, 2010). Retrieved from

Fiddler Crab (Uca Rapax) By Dylan Burchett

I. Introduction

Fiddler Crabs, also known as Calling Crabs, are of the Uca genus and arthropoda phylum. Fiddler Crabs are semi-terrestrial marine crabs known for their asymmetrical claws and live in burrows made in the shores of salt marshes or sandy or muddy beaches.

II. Anatomy

III. Form & Function

Fiddler crabs are most well known for their asymmetrical claws, the larger claw being their defining characteristic. The larger claw has many uses, its main uses being for courtship and fighting. When it comes time to court a female, the male fiddler crab goes through a series of waving motions with its larger claw to attract a female. If the female consents, the two enter the male’s burrow where they will mate. Two weeks later, the female will emerge to release her newly fertilized eggs into the water. The larger claw of the fiddler crab is also used to fight with other fiddler crabs, or for defense. If the larger claw is removed, it will grow back in the next molt. The burrow of the fiddler crab is also instrumental to the success of the creature. The burrow, while often used for mating, is also used as a safe haven from predators, such as egrets, herons, and raccoons, as well as a place to hibernate in the winter. Fiddler crabs are often between 2.5-5 cm in length, and live for 1.5 years. Fiddler crabs feed on detritus, algae, bacteria, and fungus.

IV. Impact on World/Humanity

Fiddler crabs are very important to the marshland ecosystem, as they eat detritus which helps clean up the marsh. The burrows of fiddler crabs are also helpful to the marshland ecosystem, as they create a system of tunnels in the earth that aerate the various grasses of the marsh.

V. Journal Article Review

This article is about how fiddler crabs track their way to and from their burrows. Scientists seem to have many guesses, but no one is quite yet sure how the fiddler crabs do it.

Works Cited

• Marcus, A. (n.d.). How Crabs Find Their Way Back Home. Scientific American. Retrieved December 12, 2010, from
• Fiddler Crabs. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved December 12, 2010, from
• Fiddler Crab (Uca rapax). (n.d.). Texas Parks and Wildlife. Retrieved December 12, 2010, from

The Cone Snail (Conus) ((coolest snail in the world)

The Cone Snail (Conus) ((Coolest snail in the world)) BY ZACHARY KAYE

Introduction: The Conus, or Cone Snail, is classified under the kingdom Animalia, the phylum of mullusca, and the class of gastropoda. Conus is a large genus of small to large predatory sea snails and marine gastropod molluscs. Conus snails are mostly tropical in division. They are all venomous, although some are more then others. There are over 600 different species of cone snails. They are typically found in warm and tropical seas and oceans worldwide, and reach their greatest diversity in the Western Indo-Pacific Region. However, some species of Conus are adapted to temperate environments, such as the Cape coast of South Africa, or the cool waters of southern California (Conus californicus) and are endemic to these areas.

The snails body anatomy consists of:
1) Proboscis. The proboscis is the cone snail’s hunting tool. Venom is injected into prey by a harpoon loaded into this long thin tube. The proboscis can extend longer than twice the size of the snail.
2) Siphon. The snail’s siphon is similar to a nose. It is a long extendable tube that can detect its prey in the surrounding waters. It also directs water to the gills to help with respiration.
3) Eye Stalks - Cone snails have a pair of eyes, located on either side of their mouth. We do not know how well cone snails can see, or whether there is enough light in some deeper habitats to make it worthwhile.
4) Mouth - A cone snail has a huge extendable mouth. It extends outwards to engulf its prey. A muscle contracts to bring the mouth back into its shell.
5) Foot - A long muscular foot extends to allow the snail to move along surfaces.

Form and Function: Eating Habits: Cone snails are carnivorous, and predatory. They hunt and eat prey such as marine worms, small fish, mollusks, and even other cone snails. Because cone snails are slow-moving, they use a venomous harpoon (called a toxoglossan radula) to capture faster-moving prey such as fish. The venom of a few larger species, especially the piscivorous ones, is powerful enough to kill a human being. The Cone Snail also burrows itself under the sand not only to wait for food, but to hide and protect itself from predators.

Video of Cone Snail catching prey:

Reproduction: The females eggs are fertilized internally by the males sperm. The textile cone’s egg capsules contain 500-700 eggs each. The capsules are laid under rocks, and very few survive. The few eggs that survive to hatch do so in about 16-17 days. The larvae remain pelagic for about 16 days, and then settle onto substrate. At this time they are about 1.5 mm (0.06 in) in length.

Impact on the world/humanity: The largest impact on the world that the cone snail has is the neurotoxins that it produces. They are used to make medicine that treat neuropathic pain. Less then 1% of the 500 species have been studied, and scientist believe that this amazing animal has the potential to treat Parkinson’s disease and depression.

Journal/Article Review:
The summary of this article is that the neurotoxins created by the cone snail have been turned into a pain medicine called Prialt. It is approved by the FDA and is used for neuropathic pain. Some of the neurotoxins made are 1000 times more powerful then morphine. Because our digestive enzymes would break these toxins apart, they are injected directly into our spinal canal.


Apple Snail by Jacque Prado

(Image 1)


Kindgom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Gastropoda

Superfamily: Ampullarioidea

Family: Ampullariidae

Ampullariidae, also known as Apple Snails, is a family of freshwater snails. They can be found in swamps, ponds, ditches, lakes, and rivers. They prefer lentic (still) water rather than living in waters with strong currents. Their size can be anywhere from 5cm to 6 inches depending on the species. Due to their size and attractive appearance, they have now become a popular pet. They are mostly lazy snails and only move around when they need to eat or reproduce.


(image 2)

(image 3) (image 4)

Apple snails have both a gill and a lung in which the mantle cavity divides them in order to keep the two types of respiratory structures separate. This adaptation allows them to be moderately amphibious. The Apple Snail has an osphradius that is located in the mantle cavity in front of the lung which allows them to smell chemicals in the water. Their tentacles are very important sensory organs, and they may even be longer than the snail’s body. They also have a muscular foot that is used for locomotion.

Form and Function:

Apple Snails like to feed off of algae and aquatic plants, but if they are a pet living in a fish tank, they like to eat apples and other fresh fruit. Apple snails have a very strong sense of smell, and use it to find food and other snails of its own species (to find a mate). They have a three chambered stomach that is pink and U shaped. The Apple Snail is not hermaphroditic, it is dioecious. Intercourse lasts between 12-20 hours and then the female lays her eggs on walls or plant stems. They have a shell door that allows the snail to close the shell during dry periods to prevent them from drying out. They’re predators are birds, alligators, turtles, and they are the exclusive food of the snail kite.

(image 5)

Impact on the World/Humanity:

Apple Snails transfer the parasite Angiostronglyus cantonesnsis (rat lungworm). This parasite lives most of its life inside the snail and if not cooked enough before eating, can infect humans. This causes eosinophilic meningitis (mostly in South East Asia and the Pacific Basin). This may lead to death or permanent nerve and brain damage.

Journal Article Review:

(image 7)

This article is about how Apple Snail eggs are coated with an enzyme inhibitor which makes them indigestible. The eggs are covered in a protein called PV2 which is added by the mother so that the eggs don’t dry out in the sun. This protein when consumed by mice can either damage their spinal cords or if they consume a lot, it will kill them in up to 30 hours.


"Ampullariidae." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .

"Angiostrongylus Cantonensis." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .

" - What Do Apple Snails Eat." WikiAnswers - The Q&A Wiki. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .

The Apple Snail (Ampullariidae) Website. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .

"Predators." Southeast Ecological Science Center. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .

"Zoologger: Weaponised Eggs Turn Predators' Stomachs - Life - 08 December 2010 - New Scientist." Science News and Science Jobs from New Scientist - New Scientist. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .

All Images:

The Apple Snail (Ampullariidae) Website. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. .

Ghost Crab! by Sarah Hurtado

I. Introduction

Ghost crabs, also known as sand crabs are of the genus Ocypode. Ghost crabs live on the sandy shores in tropical and subtropical areas. They are most commonly sighted at dusk or during the night. In drier areas of the upper beach, golfball-sized entrance holes indicate the home of these crabs. The burrows extend 3-4 feet. The crabs are able to pick up clawfuls of sand and toss them up to 12 inches away from the burrowing opening! Later using their claws, they smooth out the surface. Sometimes they cover their burrowing holes with a dome of sand to camouflage their home. The tunnel leading to their chamber, is constructed with wet sand so that it won’t collapse. During the winter, Ghost Crabs hibernate in their burrows and use oxygen stored in their gills for up to six weeks. It is important that they have access to water because periodically for respiration and reproduction, they need to wet their gills. The seawater is stored in the bronchial chambers. The crabs cannot swim, but babies begin life in the water and become amphibious temporally.

II. Anatomy

The Ghost Crabs shell is 1 ½ - 2 inches across. They have six strong and hairy legs that enable him to go up to 10 miles per hour, which makes them the fastest crustaceans. They can run sideways, forwards, and backward. They have strong pinchers of unequal size.

III. Form and Function

The large eyestalks are club-shaped and are capable of 360 degree vision. They have such good vision, they are able to spot and grab insects in mid-air. They powerful claw also allows them to grab food and before eating, crushes their prey. They eat beach fleas, coquina clams, mole crabs, lizards, and carrion. Also, when baby sea turtles are hatching, they are also prey for the Ghost Crabs. They mostly feed at night. Reproduction involves competition between male crabs. Males raise both their claws and their bodies in threatening postures until one sinks into a submissive posture or sometimes there will be a “pushing fight”. Mating occurs on the sand or within burrows, and females lay their eggs in the water. Females with egg masses need to frequently enter the water to keep the eggs wet. They may turn upside down in the water to ventilate the egg mass which is carried under her tail. The larvae drift for four to six weeks and then return to the sand as apple-seed- size babies! While they are drifting, they are prey to small fish and other aquatic animals. Other than this, they have few predators, raccoons and birds being the largest threats. They use their large claw as a defense mechanism as well as retreating to their burrows. They blend in very well with the sand and their excellent eye sight helps them protect themselves from predators. Excretory and osmoregulatory organs are paired glands located in the head, with excretory pores opening at the base of either antennae or maxille. Waste products are mostly ammonia with some urea and uric acid. The waste diffuses through the gills as well as through the excretory glands.

IV. Impact on the World/Humanity
Ghost Crabs are widely distributed and very abundant. They are not under threat, and have very little interaction with humans. Although building and beach traffic can displace the crabs and compact the sand which in turn destroys their burrows, forces needed moisture from the sand, crush vegetation and enhance erosion from waves. On some Caribbean Islands, they are a human food source.

V. Journal Article Review
Uptake of Soil Capillary Water by Ghost Crabs
Thomas G. Wocott

This article is about how the Ghost crab can extract water from damp sand. When they are unable to get to water, they can extract water from the sand and even the inside of their burrow. They are unsure of the mechanism that allows them to do this, but some studies have shown that the mechanism may involve a capillary attraction and the production on a substantial vacuum.


Works Cited