Mock Ness monster is here

Thanks to a comment in Pharyngula, I found a very amusing T-shirt: the Loch Ness Imposter, and ordered one online. Tuesday, it arrived from Threadless. Actually, two arrived: one for me and one for Andie. We’ll be contra-dancing and biking in our matching tees!

Loch Ness Imposter shirt
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Pharyngula’s Friday cephalopod: Octopus abaculus

As someone mentioned, today’s Friday Cephalopod has a rather fractal appearance.

Octopus abaculus (Norman, 1997)

Octopus abaculus is found only in the Phillippine Islands. It was formally described and named in 1997 by M.D. Norman and M.J. Sweeney 1:

The shallow-water octopuses of the Philippines are diagnosed on the basis of material collected in a series of expeditions by the Smithsonian Institution to the region between 1978 and 1990. Twenty species of shallow-water octopuses are recognised, 18 in the genus Octopus, and one species each in the genera Hapalochlaena and Cistopus. Three new species are described from Philippine waters: Octopus abaculus, O. nocturnus and O. pumilus. Octopuses reported in the earlier work of G. L. Voss on the cephalopod fauna of the Philippines are reviewed and identifications updated. A diagnostic key and illustrations are provided along with information on taxonomy, distribution, aspects of life history and importance in fisheries.

Here’s some information about benthic octopuses (PDF), written by M.D. Norman, from a FAO species identfication guide2.

Octopus abaculus, cephalopod, information

You can see its classification at Zipcode Zoo or the Animal Diversity Web.

  1. Norman, M.D. and M.J. Sweeney. The shallow-water octopuses (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae) of the Philippines, Invertebrate Taxonomy, 11 (1), 89-140. Full text doi:10.1071/IT95026.
  2. Carpenter, Kent E and Volker H. Niem. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery: The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific, Volume 2: Cephalopods, crustaceans, holothurians and sharks. ISSN 1020-6868.

Friday cephalopod on Pharyngula

eye of a squid, Euprymna tasmanica

Just take a look at this beautiful cepalopod eye.

It’s the eye of Euprymna tasmanica. Now, follow the link to see it full sized.

Friday cephalopods: salt cellars

Cephalopod art is out in force in kitschy art. There are green ones:

Octopus salt cellars - green

Orange ones:

Octopus salt cellars - orange

And gray ones:

Octopus salt cellars - grey

Cephalopod development and evolution from Pharyngula

six-legged octopusA news story about an ordinary octopus that developed only six legs prompted PZ Myers at Pharyngula to refer readers back to one of his detailed articles, “Cephalopod development and evolution.”

One… question is how oysters could be related to squid; one’s a flat, sessile blob with a hard shell, and the other is a jet-propelled active predator with eyes and tentacles. Any family resemblance is almost completely lost in their long and divergent evolutionary history….

One way to puzzle out anatomical relationships and make phylogenetic inferences is to study the embryology of the animals. Early development is often fairly well conserved, and the various parts and organization are simpler; I would argue that what’s important in the evolution of complex organisms anyway is the process of multicellular assembly, and it’s the rules of construction that we have to determine to identify pathways of change. Now a recent paper by Shigeno et al. traces the development of Nautilus and works out how the body plan is established, and the evolutionary pattern becomes apparent.

He’s referring to “Shigeno S, Sasaki T, Moritaki T, Kasugai T, Vecchione M, Agata K. (2007) Evolution of the cephalopod head complex by assembly of multiple molluscan body parts: Evidence from Nautilus embryonic development. J Morphol. [Epub ahead of print].”

Ammonoids and nautiloids

Ceratites, extinct ammoniteCheck out these neat images of cephalopods: extinct ammonoids and nautiloids from TONMO.

Squid snacks

On a walk through Toronto’s downtown Chinatown just before Christmas, I noticed some flat, paper-thin, dried squids in front of a Chinese grocery. The proprietor explained, with words and gestures, that the squids are slathered with barbecue sauce and cooked on both sides. You can see the squids piled high on this counter, in bundles, with their tentacles tangled at one end.

Speaking of sustainable fisheries, the three bins at the lower right are full of tiny dried fishes. Perhaps they are used for soup? Then never grow up to be big fish. By any rules I’ve ever heard of, they’d be undersized.

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