If you had 1,000 butts, what would you use them for?Marine worm Bossica multi-tailed It is one of only two known animals to find themselves in this rather awkward position (buying pants must be a nightmare)-and it doesn’t explain the problem. But considering that many stolen goods did not “just happen” to the worms, there must be a good reason, and a new anatomical study provides some interesting clues.
The story started normally. Ramie Is an Mane caterpillar Living in the waterways of sponges, called Petrosia In a shallow reef off the northern coast of Australia. Its lonely, unremarkable, sleepy head is deeply buried in the sponge. Soon after, things became strange.
Its body began to branch repeatedly, without regularity. The resulting large amount of rear may extend into the seawater through natural holes in the sponge and move slowly along its surface. Scientists observed a “small” sponge decorated with more than 100 fan-shaped worms, sometimes with more than 10 openings. Although the sponge is a lot of great things, the sentient is not one of them. This is definitely a victory here.
In addition, each branch contains its own set of internal organs. according to The first detailed anatomical study Among these worms, Published this year in Journal of Morphology Composed of teams from Spain, Australia, and Germany, these organs are no different from those of unbranched juveniles. They further discovered that the worm’s intestines are continuous throughout the labyrinth of animals-but obviously empty. No sponge tissue was found inside, and no food particles of any kind were found.
However, they also found that the hindgut of the worm is covered with cilia and microvilli. Small finger-like extensions maximize the surface area available for nutrient absorption (your own intestine is covered by a velvet-like lining of villi and microvilli) . This means that their intestines can still function, although how these huge animals can survive on invisible food that can only be accessed through their sadly undersized mouths remains a mystery.
What makes these worms particularly interesting to me is that they seem to be animals that adopt a fungal lifestyle. Observe the fungus under the microscope, You will see a branch system very similar RamieThis similarity suggests what these worms might do in their sponges.
Fungi are absorptive feeders. They enter the food, secrete digestive enzymes, and then absorb the resulting mucus. Their highly branched filamentous bodies emphasize surface area because they do not stuff their long intestines into a small body like we do, but the whole body is an intestine, from the inside to the outside. In this setting, the more body you have, the more food you can eat.
For some time, people have known that soft marine invertebrates can directly absorb dissolved organic matter (also known as liquid food) from seawater through their “skin”.but Remisilis It may have taken it to a new level: the dissection team found that the body of the worm was also suspiciously covered with long microvilli.Given that there is a strong emphasis on square feet in the building Remisilis Body plans — and the lack of emphasis on producing a head or mouth that matches the situation — one must strongly suspect that, like fungi, they have transformed the outside into the inside.
If their highly branched bodies are not enough to suggest fungi, please allow me to show Chart B: Their crazy reproductive system.
The first clue to their extreme alternative lifestyle is Ramie Never go on a date.Once you squeeze thousands of tentacle-like branches in Petrosia Sponge, you have made a promise to the house, not a relationship (or even a hookup). The usual solution is to simply drop millions of cheap gametes directly into the water, wave goodbye, and turn on some must-see TVs. Corals and sea anemones are famous practitioners of this enviable art of reproduction.
But this is not the route Remisilis And many others Hairy The worm took it.There is a small tail called a behind their bodies Tail whip (Trilobite There is also this lovely ass flap).Just in front of it is the polychate worm version Apical meristem In plants: The place where stem cells continuously produce new body parts is called the post-growth zone. Polychaete worms have these to create new parts. But this is an unusual situation for animals and has led to some unusual results.
Sometimes, instead of making new standard fragments, these areas begin to construct a head that contains a basic brain and four eyes. Behind the head are more body parts, which are filled with gametes. Unknowingly, there is a small sexy hot rod attached to the mothership, which will be abandoned when the time is right. These streamlined clones (called “stolons” in botany; strawberry cuttings and other horizontal plant stems are also called stolons) are equipped with paddles, driving directions, libido, etc.
in short, Ramie Create autonomous gonadal glands in the vague middle ground between the two Removable penis And college freshmen. The group to which these worms belong-sylids-may be unique among bilaterally symmetrical animals in this strange reproductive strategy, known as “twin divisions.” Of course, certain insects do similar things because they produce short-lived adults whose sole purpose is to strike extremely tiny and extremely urgent boots, but they usually live much longer as larvae. They will not germinate from existing insects. This is a very mycological way of doing things.
indeed, Image of ramie stolon In its branch of reproductive worms, surprisingly similar Photo of fungus Fusarium With its unique boat-shaped spores.The stolons of other unbranched soft knots Can also be made in bunches or chains, Just like fungal spores.
It may be this reproductive habit that allows sylid worms to grow a variety of bodies. The ability to make branches with sexually seeking clones may be just some mutations, rather than replacing regular bits.
Nevertheless, some things about this story still bother me. If their entire body can absorb dissolved food, why emphasize reaching the countless backs of the sponge surface? In a specimen dissected by a scientist, it was found that bunches of worm butts were stuffed into a sponge cul-de-sac. The scientists interpreted this as the hindrance of the backside’s attempt to reach the surface. The tail also contains a bright white pigment of unknown function, regardless of whether they reach the top or not.
Why is it so important for the tail to find an exit? Is the organic matter dissolved outside the sponge really so delicious? Why do they apply paint equivalent to highway reflective paint? Is it just for sun protection? Or are there other uses?
although Ramie Obviously doing A generation Will make it with a thousand swag-shake them-what is it real Working with them is still a mystery.
This is an opinion and analysis article. The views expressed by the author or author are not necessarily those of the author Scientific American.