This is the mushroom coral (fungi scutaria), named its similarity to the underside of a mushroom. Native to the western Pacific Ocean, this coral has the unique trait of being formed from only on polyp, rather than a colony of polyps. (via)
Polychaetes, or bristle worms, are a very common and diverse class of worms with over 10,000 species described so far. Commonly overlooked, these mostly marine worms can be brightly coloured and are to be found in tubes and burrows in the sand and mud of the beach to the depths of the ocean or even just free-living in the water. They all have bristles on their segmented bodies - in fact ‘polychaeta’ means ‘many bristles’. They come in an impressive range of sizes from just 1mm to 3m long.
Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have recently discovered a tasselled wobbegong shark (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) tucking into a meal of another shark while diving off the Great Barrier Reef.
Wobbegongs usually lie in wait on the sea floor for a passing fish or a tasty invertebrate to swim by and then ambush their prey. This one got lucky with a brown-banded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum), and was in the process of swallowing it whole and head first. The wobbegong’s appetite for large meals is helped by its dislocating jaw, large gape and rearward-pointing teeth.
While wobbegongs eating sharks has been recorded before from stomach contents, this is the first time it has been photographed in action.
Thirteen per cent of shark bites on humans are from small wobbegongs. These bites are not the shark looking for lunch - they’re usually a result of them being trodden on, thus the origin of their nickname, the carpet shark.
Scientists at the University of Western Australia have now sequenced the DNA of a patch of Posidonia oceanica, a seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea, to determine its age. And, as it turns out, some parts are up to 200,000 years old, which easily beats that of the previously-believed record-holder, a Tasmanian plant around 43,000 years old.
How could this be possible? The seagrass, also known as Neptune Grass or Mediterranean tapeweed, grows in massive clumps and is continuously growing new branches and expanding. The seagrass reproduces asexually by cloning, and spreads far and wide so that it can survive even if one particular area becomes depleted of natural resources.
To put this age into perspective, 200,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans were just evolving in Africa, while we only reached “behavioral modernity” around 50,000 years ago.