What's it Wednesday

by Dawn Farmer

Despite the fact I spotted Orion low in the eastern sky this morning, I am refusing to give up the notion of summer just yet.

7 replies »

  1. I admit that the image does, indeed, look like the inside of a straw hat. But that would be incorrect. Once must remember Dawn’s fascination with the ocean. This is actually a species of aquatic flatworm.

    Karya-peche, is a planet that is covered by ocean. It is also orbiting a black hole, so it doesn’t get much light. But, surprisingly, there are photosynthetic organisms living on the planet. Due to it’s close proximity (relative) to a black hole, the planet is geologically very active. And because of this, there is a network of volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean. As you might expect, this has resulted in a plethora of chemosynthetic organisms. However, some of these organisms have evolved photosynthetic mechanisms utilizing the limited light generated by volcanic activity. Similar species have been found on Earth.

    This has resulted in concentric ecosystems around the vents. Closer to the vents, where temperatures are hotter, lifeforms tend to be chemosynthetic. Further away, organisms are photosynthetic.

    The flatworm in Dawn’s picture has developed a strong, fibrous exoskeleton to protect it from the larger predators and bottom feeders. It has also developed a behavior to maximize the efficiency with respect to the available light. Basically, it folds back on itself in a spiral pattern, thereby focusing the light like a lens. This particular worm seems to be in the process of moving to another site (which is why some of the light is getting through the layers). Most likely, this is because it has just laid a clutch of eggs (the “sweatband” others have noted).

  2. Ubertramp – Depeche Mode was a good guess, you stumped me on the Karya though. 🙂

    How do those critters live in the deep dark next to the vents? Amazing stuff. I just love all those wonderfully weird beings in the deep.