Sunday 13 September 2015

Creature 348: Wuchereria bancrofti

Wuchereria bancrofti is a species roundworms which can parasitise humans.
Microfilariae of W. bancrofti in a thick blood smear stained with Giemsa. Image courtesy of the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory.

They are normally transmitted to humans by mosquito. They infect the human lymphatic system and can cause several complications including the condition known as elephantitis in which the limbs swell up and become severely disfigured.

At various stages in history the parasite could be found across most of the human inhabited world, however today it can only be found in third world countries.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Nematoda
Class: Secernentea
Order: Spirurida
Family: Onchocercidae
Genus: Wuchereria
Species: Wuchereria bancrofti 

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Saturday 12 September 2015

Creature 347: Powelliphanta

Slimy yet satisfying
Powelliphanta is a genus of carnivorous landsnails known as the New Zealand amber snail.
Powelliphanta lignaria johnstoni, Charming Creek, West Coast. Photo: Jess Reedy.
They love to eat earthworms. They don't just eat them either, they slurp them up like spaghetti.  Watch it here:

The New Zealand amber snails are unsurprisingly endemic to New Zealand. Most species have a very limited geographic range.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Order: Heterobranchia
Family: Rhytididae
Genus: Powelliphanta

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Friday 11 September 2015

Creature 346: Anelosimus eximius

It's raining spiders
Anelosimus eximius is a species of colonial spiders.
Much like Tetragnatha guatemalensis they form large colonies which can contain thousands or even tens of thousands of individuals. This behaviour enables them to capture much larger prey items than other spiders of roughly the same size. Colonies can cover several square meters among tree canopies.

Given that a single female can lay dozens of eggs and that there are usually ten females for ever male in a colony, there can often be incredibly large numbers of juveniles hatching in a single colony. The juveniles disperse through the wind, like a lot of spiders and when the juveniles of a large colony hatch it can lead to a situation in which it appears to be raining spiders.

Anelosimus eximius can be found in South and Central America.

Species: Anelosimus eximius

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Thursday 10 September 2015

Creature 345: Arctica islandica

Old food

Arctica islandica is a fairly ordinary looking clam commonly referred to as the ocean quahog.
Arctica islandica.

They are commonly harvested and eaten by humans and are commercially available and you may have eaten them yourself. However while most individuals will be very young, these clams can live hundreds of years. The record was a 507 year old specimen collected near iceland and named Ming because it originated from a time wjen the Ming dynasty was in control of China. It was accidentally killed by scientists on a survey and could possibly have survived a lot longer.

Arctica islandica can be found on the ocean floor of the North Atlantic.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Veneroida
Family: Arcticidae
Genus: Arctica
Species: Arctica islandica

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Wednesday 9 September 2015

Creature 344: Euhaplorchis californiensis

Another mind altering parasite

Euhaplorchis californiensis is a flatworm parasite which has three different hosts.
Фото: Паразиты, способные управлять поведением своих хозяев (Фотогалерея)

These flatworms parasitise horn snails then killfish than shorebirds. No individual will see all three hosts in their lifetime, but the hosts all form separate parts of a reproductive cycle.
The horn snail picks up the infection from the droppings of infected shorebirds. Infected snails suffer a severe reduction in their fertility.  The parasites will multiply inside the snail for a few generations until they morph into a more mobile form. At this point they swim out into the marshes and find a killfish host.
A Cyst on the fish's brain, When this parasite infects the fish's brain, the parasite doesn't inhibit the fish. The fish can still swim and obtain food just as well as any other fish
They enter the body through the gills and invade the central nervous system of the killfish. They alter the brain chemistry and cause the killfish to behave erratically,  resulting in an infected fish being 30 times more likely to be preyed upon by a shorebird.
They infect the shorebirds gut, releasing the eggs into the feaces, and the cycle continues.
Euhaplorchis californiensis is found in saltwater marshes in Southern California.

Phylum: Platyhelminthes
Class: Trematoda
Order: Opisthorchiida
Family: Heterophyidae
Species: Euhaplorchis californiensis

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Tuesday 8 September 2015

Creature 343: Protaeolidiella atra

Nudibranch day

Just another nudibranch for again for you today.

This time it's Protaeolidiella atra, whose bizarre branching appendages form part of its digestive sy

Protaeolidiella atra is found in the Indowest Pacific.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Order: Nudibranchia
Family: Aeolidiidae
Genus: Protaeolidiella
Species: Protaeolidiella atra

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Monday 7 September 2015

Creature 342: Harrisimemna trisignata

Taking headbutting to a new level.
Harrisimemna trisignata is a moth commonly called Harris' three spot caterpillar or Harris' three spot moth.

The juvenile has found a pretty innovative use for the head from their previous malts. Instead of discarding them like most caterpillars would, they hang onto them and use them as a weapon.
Meet the Ugly Caterpillar That Uses Old, Dead Heads as Weapons and Can’t Tell Its Butt From Its Head

The species is found across the east and center of North America.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Noctuidae
Genus: Harrisimemna
Species: Harrisimemna trisignata

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