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Archive for the ‘cuttlefish’ Category

I keep comparing NMNH to AMNH, because I just can’t help it. I’m at AMNH probably about once a month, so I just know it well. Their fossils of vertebrate origins, dinosaurs, marine reptiles, extinct mammals, and animal relatives are truly amazing. I bet they also have a dandy invertebrate fossil collection, but they don’t display it. What a dream it would be to plumb the depths of that museum, open some drawers. Anyway, NMNH doesn’t actually have that many dinosaurs, so guess what that means? Inverts ahoy! Ammonites make the prettiest fossils, I must say.

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I’m so glad there’s a hand in here for scale, even if it does belong to Bruce Springsteen circa 1984.

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I love this action painting of ammonites getting chomped by a mosasaur.

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In addition to going to the Natural History Museum, I also went to the National Zoo! Obligatory panda photo:

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The amazing thing is that the National Zoo has a wonderful building devoted to invertebrates. The building is near the komodo dragon, which is also awesome, by the way. All sorts of cool invertebrates are on display in the building including insects, corals, echinoderms, etc, and mollusks, naturally. There were a bunch of nautiluses and one lone cuttlefish together in one tank.

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And a Pacific Giant Octopus in another tank, who made a run for it as soon as the camera came out. How cool! I was not expecting mollusks at the zoo; what a bonus. DC loves mollusks!

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Baltimore’s aquarium was great, but what’s a vacation without two aquarium trips? The New England Aquarium has long been one of my favorites, because of the huge central tank with all the cool stuff in it, including three different species of sea turtles. Also, there are harbor seals you can see from outside that spend a lot of time in this blorpy iceburg pose:

Harbor Seal
(photo: atrphoto)

And, of course, there are PENGUINS. This was the big draw when I was a kid, as penguins were my absolute favorite animal back then. They have three different penguin enclosures with three different species, and one of the enclosures has a fish-shaped flashlight that allows you to play with the penguins in a manner not unlike cat and laser pointer. My husband and I were thrilled to see the little blue penguins, the world’s smallest penguin species. We were happy to see them in particular because before this our only encounter with this species of penguin had been in New Zealand, where a dead one floated by our sea kayak. Let the healing begin.

I couldn’t find a video of penguins chasing the light at the aquarium, but it’s like this, but in the water. So cute.

I have to say, the New England Aquarium certainly does give some invertebrate love. They had another Pacific Giant Octopus, the biggest nautilus I’ve ever seen, amazing corals, crustaceans, anemones, urchins, sea stars, sea cucumbers and the like, and a first for me– cuttlefish!
These are common cuttlefish and were just adorably hovering in their dark little tank.

All of these recent cephalopod encounters made me realize I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live squid before. How to rectify?

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The drive is over for this year, and I’ve emailed all of the prize winners. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who donated! Back to our regularly scheduled mollusk programming.

A new large squid species was discovered! The specimen in that article looks like it has seen better days…

Still not as disturbing as counterfeit cuttlefish!

This one’s the real deal, though.
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Macro

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Weekly link roundup time!

1. What are you doing this weekend? Watching Sharktopus I hope!

I was going to embed the trailer, but in fact it looks so godawful I thought better of it. I’ll hold out for Bearsharktopus.

2. Purdue researchers working on what makes oysters stick together. It seems that oysters are producing a “glue” that’s 90% calcium carbonate and 10% protein, as opposed to the byssal threads other mollusks use that are predominantly protein.

3. I’m fairly obsessed with this new species of nudibranch that makes little egg doilies. It’s like the nudibranch version of me! I have been known to make a doily or two in my day.

4. I don’t know if you’ve been following the saga of the Inland Octopus mural, but residents of Walla Walla, WA are taking action to make sure the mural stays. I hope it does. Look how cute!

Inland Octopus Mural
(photo: Josh Westbrook)

5. Also, if you want your baby to be the coolest hippie baby ever, Inland Octopus sells hands down the coolest tie dye clothing I have ever ever seen. Done by Leslie at Cosmic Farmhouse.

6. This is an exciting weekend for me. My roommate from my San Francisco years is in town, and we are basically going to eat our way across town. Our first stop, and probably most auspicious, is wd-50, a restaurant specializing in molecular gastronomy. There are also a fair number of mollusks on the menu. I don’t eat animals in general and cephalopods in particular, but they sure do cook up pretty.

Cuttlefish, cashew, rootbeer, watercress

Tomatillo-pine gazpacho, soybean falafel, octopus confit

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Jon Stewart brought Isabella Rossellini’s work in short films about animal reproduction to my attention this week. She clearly loves how mollusks mate. These are honestly some of the strangest things I’ve ever seen captured on film, and I’m a fan of Werner Herzog (a German language Western film with an all little people cast? Anyone?). Check out the Green Porno website for all of the films. Mollusk films include snail, cuttlefish, limpet, and squid. Also, do not let your mollusk bias prevent you from watching the other films, because they are all equally inexplicable and delightful.

Here’s the snail video.

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