Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Fluff: For when enough is enough.

It's after 4 on Friday, and I just spent a few hours trying to teach myself sql. Soooo ... brain. Because. But three easy pieces did cross into my field of view recently, and so:

1. Even extinct cone snails get all the attention!

Cone snails get a disproportionate amount of attention, mostly, I suppose because they are so diverse. Admittedly, they have some cool ecology, but nonetheless, those of us who don't work on them (or maybe just me) are sometimes a bit jealous of all the hubbub about a single group. So it was unsurprising when I saw this post from the Smithsonian blog about how entrancing even extinct cone snails are. A researcher from San Jose State University used UV light to show the color patterns on fossilized cone snail shells. Some of the pigmentation was no longer visible to the naked eye, but using this technique, this guy identified more than 10 new species! I feel like there should be some comment here about inspiration coming from the strangest places - like raves and velvet posters. Here's the original paper, with more cool photos.

Figure 2 reproduced from Hendricks 2015 PLoSOne demonstrating
how UV light can be used to reveal historic coloration of fossil cone snail shells

2. Between a rock and a limpet radula

Well, Rah rah radula indeed! In fact, we had better hail the radula or it will come for us, and we will not come out on top. Engineers at the University of Portsmouth (also in Science Daily) have proclaimed that limpet teeth are made of the strongest naturally-occurring material known to man. Here, "strongest" refers to highest tensile strength and has nothing to do with towing a 767. For those of you who still think terrestrial systems have anything to offer ("But, but, what about spiders?") it turns out these fangs have toppled spider silk as the champion of natural material strength. 

No, this picture does need to be this big. If the last post on attack snails wasn't enough to give you nightmares, this should be. Image from the University of Portsmouth. 

All of that from this:
Patella vulgata, the common limpet. Just think about how
strong teeth would be from an UNcommon limpet.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

3. Beauty abounds thanks to El Nino!

California faces drought unprecedented in recorded history and John Steinbeck wishes he were alive to document it. But Californians have something positive to look forward to - population booms of this beautiful slug, Okenia rosacea, which benefits from warmer temperatures. The Hopkins rose nudibranch is being spotted much further north than is usual. More from Science Daily and the primary literature.
Image by Jerry Kirkhart from Los Osos, CA via Wikimedia Commons
Have you seen it on your beach? Send me pictures!

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