Friday, November 7, 2008

isopods...oh so pretty

Isopods are not generally described as pretty. No worries. Beyond their less-than-obvious beauty, there is plenty to admire about them. This order of crustacean arthropods contains over 4000 described species including the pill bugs; they are the most successful terrestrial crustaceans. However, most isopods are marine, and can be found in habitats from tidepools to the deep sea. They're only cockroach-sized in the tidepools, but the deep sea species are bigger than guinea pigs. Even creepier than the giant deep sea isopods are the isopods that make their living as external parasites of fish. Some will enter the fish's mouth and nibble at the tongue, eventually replacing it altogether. As alarming as this sounds, significant effects on the host fish seem to be minimal. To see more photos of parasitic isopods, and read what Richard Brusca, one of the world's experts on this group has to say about them, go here. If you decide to advertise your newfound excitement about isopods and want a shirt like the one I wore in class today, I ordered it from Questionable Content. It was Miriam at The Oyster's Garter who initially led me there via her post on giant isopods, which is definitely worth checking out; the video is nightmare-inducing.

3 comments:

Robin said...

Giant pill bugs would make awesome pets.

casiereed said...

I think that parasitic isopods are my favorite parasite...but maybe I'm speaking too soon. Anyway, here is a really cool link to a paper that includes info on Cymothoa exigua by Richard Brusca and Matthew Gilligan: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1444352?seq=1

This is from jstor, so you might need to be on campus to access it.

also, if you are interested, check out the wikipedia page because (eeeeep) its pretty good and has some good links.

Robin said...

Another reason to be impressed by bloodworms…
http://news.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-2/Bloodworms-way-with-copper-likely-provides-paradigm-for-new-materials-6563-1/