Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beautiful exoskeleton

Part of a Saturday project was to photograph this exoskeleton of a Murex pecten, or Venus Comb Murex.  The remains are so striking, I wish I could have seen the animal in life.  It is a type of sea snail, found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.  This one is a bit over 15 cm long.

Another task was to shoot the coral sponge below.  I'll have to update with a more specific ID.  It may look like fabric, but it's not - it is rigid and very fragile! Well, not as fragile as I feared:

And here we go! It is an example of Eupectella aspergillum, or Venus Flower Basket. So, we have a linguistic commonality of these two unrelated creatures! Venus Comb (snail) and Venus Flower Basket (sponge).

A terrific nature photographer, Socrate Gentile, helped to identify this when I posted it on the Fred Miranda Forum. He also provided a link to a video which I highly recommend. The materials use and formation of the coral is fascinating, as is the way it functions as optical fibers to "pipe" bioluminescence emitted by micro-organisms on the seabed a kilometer and more below the surface of the ocean. The whole coral becomes a glowing organism, perhaps to lure food, and (my own speculation) perhaps also to draw the symbiotic shrimp which enter as a male-female pair when young, then are unable to leave, and create their own brood from within the sponge.

Do watch the video! By the way, on Fred Miranda, Socrate uses the screen name Shasoc, and mine is Photon.

I may have to try harder to make noticeable use of the fiber optic properties of this Venus Flower Basket!

From the essay attached to the YouTube video:

"Euplectella aspergillum, also known as the "Venus flower-basket" is one of the most unique and interesting lifeforms on earth. This is a truly alien-like organism as this species of sponge has a silica exoskeleton which forms an intricate cage, held together by protein filaments only a few nanometers across. In effect, this animal is almost entirely made of a nano-structured glass."



  1. How fascinating...I learned a lot! Thank you for sharing these intriguing photos and the valuable narrative!

    1. I'm glad when I can manage to post something a little out of the ordinary. You're very welcome, and I thank you for your interest and encouragement!

  2. Thank you for the link to the YouTube about the Venus' Flower Basket. It was truly awe-inspiring and fascinating!

    1. I'm glad to see people following my suggestion, and enjoying the video as much as I did.


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