Friday, October 31, 2014

Open Your Eyes, Meet the freshwater Bryozoan

Cristatella Mucedo
Cristatella Mucedo, Bryozoan (and selfie!!!)

No this is not ‘the worst selfie ever’ although I do have to confess that the medusa head is mine.

It's not everyday that you see something new, especially if you are 'past your 'best before' date' which I am.  After a while, been there done that sets in, well, not quite. I do seem to maintain a good deal of curiosity about the life forms around me, but pictured above is a critter I have not ever encountered (or even heard of until a few weeks ago) in my life. Wow, a brand new life form!!!

So 'what is it?' you ask.  Those green fuzzy caterpillar things (not the wild woman hair silhouette) are underwater critters that creep along on submerged rocks and plants.  They are Bryozoans, and frankly, I still can't explain them properly, so here's the wiki Bryozoans and after much sleuthing, I even narrowed things down to Cristatella Mucedo, a species that inhabits cool northern freshwater lakes and rivers.
Beautiful pics of the critter here:  http://astronomy-to-zoology.tumblr.com/post/52316344890/cristatella-mucedo-is-a-unique-species-of
And info here: http://winvertebrates.uwsp.edu/Bryozoa_images.html
Because while I am fascinated by science, it is NOT my area of aptitude.
But the cool thing, the really cool thing is, they can MOVE!!! Which may explain why the configuration seemed a wee bit different from one day to the next.
But not mentioned in the links, but experienced by me, they react to touch. Because of course, I could not resist touching a new thing, like reaching out and saying 'hi' to a new species.  The feeling was not mutual. More like 'EEEEEEEK!!! RUN!!!' but they can't run. What happened, when I gently touched a strand, is that it seemed to flatten/collapse at the touch point, that continued in a chain reaction like dominoes down the length of the strand.  15 minutes later it looked just as fluffy as it's original form and it's untouched comrades. Interestingly, the next morning when I repeated the experiment, the reaction was more like 'OH BOY, HERE WE GO AGAIN, SIGH' in that it flattened briefly only at the touch point. Sort of like it realized I wasn’t worth going into flat out panic.  I guess I’m just not that scary afterall.

So, there is my close encounter with (for me) a new life form.
It’s probably no surprise that this sketch came out of my head shortly after.
2014103001invisible-world72
From my sketchbook, miniature art with sharpie, “Invisible World”

Also seen
IMG_9010
up close and personal. Common enough, but amazing when seen through a digital enlargement. It looked plain dull green to my eye.

And below, from the same weekend, Thanksgiving, spent with friends at their woodland home on the Magnetawan River, and yes, the bryozoan was found in the North Magnetawan Branch, for those who like to know these things.
IMG_9015
Train crossing, on the way to Three Snyes, Magnetawan River
magnetawan-three-snyes-sig
High water, Three Snyes, Magnetawan River

1 comment:

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

you are not past your best before date, not even close!!

I would have thought with all your camping you would have come across the new life form before. I've seen a few but never tried to touch one lol

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