Martians Have Landed

If you believe in little green men, look no farther than our own planet because there are some strange organisms out there. Infamous was paddling around last week in a fresh water lake and found this unusual life form.

A colony of Bryozoa peeled from a submerged log.

I first thought this was some form of frog egg mass or a glob of algae. Being the curious type, I scooped up this sample and put it on a plate for photos. ]

A colony of the organisms on a paper plate for scale.

I hope the blog police do not catch me for putting an animal on a Botany blog. For it turns out, that gob of stuff was, indeed, an animal. I found a picture of it on Wikipedia under the topic Bryozoa. Being an ever alert blogster, I thought I should bring it to the attention of the proper authorities. This is not a plant. It is a colony of lower animals that hang together like coral. It is soft and squishy so not quite like coral, but that is the closest thing my mind can come up with. The little animals wave tiny tentacles in the water and sweep particles of food into their mouths.

A cross section sliced through the colony to show the clear soft interior.

According to the Wiki article, they reproduce by having both male and female parts inside their bodies. The sperm are released into the water to float around and fertilize the eggs. The black specks in this picture are the reproductive “seeds” (only they are animals so not seeds).

Small black reproductive units that overwinter and start a colony again in the spring

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2 Comments

  1. Theron Anderson said,

    September 20, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    Cool

  2. seryn said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Oh my gosh, I am so glad you posted this because there are huge Bryozoa colonies in the lake near my house, and I thought I would never figure out what they were. Thanks!!!


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