It’s been a pretty technical series for a while. Let’s do a little bit of fun talk.
Take a look at this thing, which is properly called Psychrolutes marcidus and not “this thing,” or by its common name, the blobfish. None of this is a surprise to the readers because the intersphereweb is chock-full of blobfish memes. Let’s shelve all that and talk biology. Fun biology.
Quick info: it’s from the deep-sea environment off the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. Really deep sea, people-killing pressure deep. You might be surprised how rich in nutrients these areas are, because, well, everything sinks there. They’re also fascinating because sunlight doesn’t penetrate that far, and so the ecosystem is proportionately more heterotrophic than most. That means that photosynthetic organisms aren’t operating as producers, or sources for energy for everything else. Instead the primary or baseline food (meaning, who eats it gets eaten), is the sifting-down detritus from the world above.
Now pick one of the following questions – the one you really would enjoy knowing about. Post it below, and if you’re feeling feisty, look up something-or-other to get started on the answer.
- How does it work? (this is functional anatomy and physiology)
- What does it do? (this is ecology and behavior)
- Who is it? (this is systematics and taxonomy)
- How did it get this way? (this is evolutionary talk)
I’ll be the classic thought-provoking prof participant, only without the stereotypical snark and patronizing. Here are some points to think about along the way.
You probably already know this too, especially since Michael Hearst did the heavy lifting (see link below). Pictures like the one on the left aren’t really fair. As a deep-sea animal, its shape is maintained in the context of intense pressure, and all that shapeless glop – the blobness – is certainly not what it looks like.
Also, plenty of creatures display a human-like face … if it’s tilted just so and various features are arranged just so. Don’t forget that the human viewer can make an anthropomorphic face out of any closed shape with as little as one feature marked inside it. Again, the “Uncle Sid” effect displayed here isn’t the fish’s ordinary in-life face.
Righty then, reply to see some discussion happen. Here’s my aim in this: to show that every creature is odd … meaning that the answers to the four questions provide a completely different framework for talking about what is usual vs. unusual. I’ll show you how to see that the “oh my god so weird” blobfish isn’t exotic, but is endlessly interesting.
Next: Count Bacula, part 1