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Is that an alien?

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Did the scientists just catch an alien?! No, it's just a deep sea amphipod! Amphipods are really interesting little creatures. They are crustaceans. We've talked about crustaceans like the blind lobster before.

b2ap3_thumbnail_b2ap3_thumbnail_Phronima-4.jpg

This amphipod is from the species Phronima. It has really large claws! This amphipod species uses its large claws to prey on zooplankton, jellies, and siphonophores. The amphipod not only eats these creatures, but collects resources from them to build the barrel we see. Check out the image below, do you see the barrel shape surrounding the amphipod? This is a semi-hard gelatinous barrel - it kind of feels like a gummy bear. The barrel seems to be the amphipods' home providing protection and camouflage. That's really cool!

b2ap3_thumbnail_b2ap3_thumbnail_Amphipod-Phronima.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_b2ap3_thumbnail_Phronima-5.jpg

Also, take a close look at the amphipod. Do you see those BIG eyes? The species Paraphronima gracilis has 16 retinas in each eye! We only have one retina in each eye. Image if you had 16 retinas in one eye. Check out the amphipod video below!

 

It's amazing what unique creatures the scientists are finding in the deep sea. I wonder what the MOCNESS nets will catch next.

 

 

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Tagged in: kids blog MOCNESS Squirt
Denise is a science education researcher with a strong background in the biological sciences as well as teaching and learning. She holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from The University of Tennessee Knoxville. Denise currently uses her expertise in her position as a laboratory coordinator for general education and majors Biology courses at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Denise takes a scientific approach to her research in order to attain a better understanding of teaching and learning in the biological sciences at all grade levels. She uses her research to drive curriculum development projects for K-12 and higher education instruction. In addition to her science education research Denise conducts biological research studies both in the laboratory and field setting (e.g., biodiversity inventories and genome sequencing). Denise is passionate about sharing her fascination of science and the natural world and as a result she is involved in many public education outreach endeavors.
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