கடல் சிலந்தியின் கால்கள்

கடல் சிலந்தி ஒரு விந்தையான கடல் வாழ் உயிரினம். இதன் மெல்லிய  உடலில் வலுவான ஆறு ஜோடி கால்கள் இணைந்திருக்கின்றன. ஹவாய் பல்கலைகழகத்தை சார்ந்த விஞ்ஞானி அமி மோர்கன் (Amy Moran, University of Hawaii) நடத்திய ஆராய்ச்சியில், அதன் கால்கள், இதயம், வயிறு, பிறப்புறுப்பு ஆகியவற்றின் வேலைகளை செய்வதை கண்டறிந்தனர்.

கடல் சிலந்திகளின் இதயம் மிகவும் பலகீனமாகவே ரத்தத்தை உந்துவதாக தெரிய வந்துள்ளது. இந்நிலையில், உடல் முழுவதும் அதாவது கால்களில் பரவியுள்ள அவற்றின் ஜீரண உறுப்பு, ரத்தத்தை சீராக உந்திச் செலுத்தும் பணியையும் சேர்த்துச் செய்வதாக விஞ்ஞானிகள் கண்டறிந்தனர்.

மேலும், முட்டைகள் பெண் சிலந்தியின் தொடையில் உருவாகி சிறு துளை மூலம் வெளியே வரும். ஆண் சிலந்தியும் அது போல் விந்தணுவை தொடையில் இருக்கும் துளை வழியே வெளியே விடும். கரு உருவானதும் ஆண் சிலந்தி அதை சுமக்கும்.

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Sea Spiders Pump Blood With Their Guts, Not Their Hearts

Sea spiders are bizarre marine creatures that have four to six pairs of spindly, jointed legs that convene at a torso that barely exists. Amy Moran from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and her team studied these animals. They have, for example, no lungs, gills, or respiratory organs of any kind. Instead, they rely on oxygen diffusing passively across the large surface area provided by their legs.

Their genitals are found on their legs, too. A female will grow eggs in her thighs and release them through pores. A male, clambering over her, releases sperm from similar pores to fertilize the eggs, which he scoops up and carries around. Among these animals, the dads care for the young.

The legs are also where most of sea spiders’ digestion takes place. There’s so little distance between their mouths and anuses that their guts send long branches down each leg.

Sea spiders, also known as pycnogonids, aren’t actual spiders. There’s a hazy consensus that they belong with the chelicerates—the group that does include true spiders—although some geneticists think that they’re more distantly related. Regardless, “they’re about as closely related to a terrestrial spider as a seahorse is to a horse,” says Moran.

They do live in the sea, though, so the Department of Naming Things got things half-right at least. There are around 1,300 known species, found in oceans all over the world. The smallest are just a millimeter long. The biggest, found in Antarctica, are the size of dinner plates.

The team injected fluorescent chemicals into their blood to see how far their hearts can push blood into their legs. Not very far, it turns out. Instead, the creatures largely pump their blood using their guts.

Each leg is a solid tube containing a branch of the sea spider’s guts and some blood vessels. The guts can contract to move food along, just as ours can. But unlike our abdomens, which are flexible, a sea spider’s leg is hard and can’t stretch or expand. If it pushes digestive fluids down its legs, it also forces blood back in the other direction. If it pushes the digestive fluids up, the blood goes back down.After oxygen passively diffuses into the animal’s legs, it is actively pushed into its torso by the contracting guts.

The creature’s actual heart is too small and weak to push blood down the long legs. It only takes over once the blood has reached the animal’s core, circulating it around the torso and head.

Like everything else about sea spiders, the origin of this weird circulatory system is mysterious. These animals are an ancient group that first appeared during around 500 million years ago during the Cambrian period—the point in Earth’s history when most modern animal groups exploded into existence. It could be that the earliest members already had spindly legs and branching guts, and simply co-opted these into ersatz hearts. Alternatively, the double-purpose guts may have come first, allowing the sea spiders to evolve their long legs.

Source Atlantic

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