Horse shoe crabs on beach

The humble animal who saves the most human lives

Credit for ‘most lives saved’ must go to the Atlantic horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus. The American Horseshoe Crab is a unique and valuable marine invertebrate. In 1950, while searching for medical cures, scientists isolated a bright-blue blood a clotting agent, conagulogen, that binds to fungi and endotoxins from the horseshoe crab. Horseshoe crabs do not have haemoglobin in their blood, but instead use hemocyanin to … Continue reading The humble animal who saves the most human lives

cone snail

Cone Snail Venom Could Inspire Fast-Acting Insulin For Diabetes

Forget slow and steady. For the cone snail, it’s fast-acting chemistry that wins the race.Researchers have now shed light on the structure of a speedy insulin that cone snails use to paralyse prey. You don’t want to mess with cone snails. These undersea predators stun prey with a harpoon-like appendage that injects venom, or they release immobilising venoms into nearby water. For decades scientists have … Continue reading Cone Snail Venom Could Inspire Fast-Acting Insulin For Diabetes

What’s the strongest material produced by animals?

Animals can produce incredibly strong substances – so who makes the toughest? Spider silk, long the strongest known biological material, was recently knocked off the top spot by a material produced by another invertebrate: the common limpet. Limpets use a tooth-coated tongue to rasp algae from rocks. These teeth need to be strong to avoid damage, and indeed are several times stronger than spider silk … Continue reading What’s the strongest material produced by animals?

The Argonaut or the Paper Nautilus.

Amongst tidal debris there sometimes appears a thin papery shell, bearing on its white surface a ribbed pattern like that which shore currents impress upon sand. It is the shell of the paper nautilus or Argonaut, an animal distantly related to an octopus and like it , having eight arms. The Argonaut lives on the high seas, in both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The “shell”is … Continue reading The Argonaut or the Paper Nautilus.

Antifreeze Fish

Did you know there are fish whose bodies contain antifreeze, like the stuff that keeps a car’s cooling water from freezing? Many kinds of cod-ice fishes, which live near the South Pole, make a kind of antifreeze so that the icy water doesn’t kill them. Here’s how it works. Water turns into ice at what’s called the freezing point, and if you’re in water at … Continue reading Antifreeze Fish

Abalone- mollusk we will soon only see on a postcard

The South African abalone, Haliotis midae, is one of the largest molluscs on earth, attaining a weight of nearly 2kg and a ripe old age of 20 years. Abalone is shellfish of the univalve family, meaning they have only one shell, unlike bivalves such as clams that consists of 2 shells. Most abalone lives in shallow waters and grows very slowly. The inner shell of … Continue reading Abalone- mollusk we will soon only see on a postcard

Cheerful and chirpy Oystercatchers

The Oyster-catcher ( AFR: Swattobie) is one of those birds that cannot be confused with any of its neighbors, for its brilliant black plumage and red-orange beak, eyes and legs tells you immediately who they are. The first oyster-catcher I ever saw was a baby bird, not long out of its shell, but already able to toddle about. In fact it toddled too far and … Continue reading Cheerful and chirpy Oystercatchers

Mussel matchmaking and the glue that holds them

New research shows how mussels find the perfect match. For mussels, fertilization occurs between eggs and sperm that have been released into the water. Up until now, it seemed the pairings were random limiting the ability to choose mates and diminishing the chance for successful fertilization due to genetic mismatches. However, recent research shows that the eggs actually release chemicals to attract the most compatible … Continue reading Mussel matchmaking and the glue that holds them

5 Symbiotic marine relationships

We all have to get along with our neighbors. It’s just the way things are, if you want to enjoy a peaceful existence. Although it may be difficult because of cultural, habitual, or recreational activities, there is usually a way that people can find a balance, if both are open to compromise. But how many people can say they are mutually benefiting from their neighbors, … Continue reading 5 Symbiotic marine relationships

Billions of Blue Jellyfish Wash Up on American Beaches

The animals known as “by-the-wind sailors” stay out on the open ocean—until the winds change In recent weeks, about a billion jellyfish-like “purple sailors” have washed up on West coast beaches of the United States. The animals—known as “by-the-wind sailors” or Velella velella—founder on the shore and pile up like a carpet of deflated blue and purple balloons. The jellies started washing up on Oregon … Continue reading Billions of Blue Jellyfish Wash Up on American Beaches