Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ZooWeird 82

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Syringammina fragilissima. Hard to imagine that the sponge-like thing actually comprises just one cell. It’s the world's largest unicellular organism, with a maximum diameter of at least 20 cm (~8 in). The species was first described by two specimens collected by the Triton ship in 1882, in the sea north of Scotland, under the guidance of oceanographer John Murray (1841–1914), who sent the collected specimens to his colleague Henry Brady for examination. The specimens were in bad shape and broken in many pieces. Still, Brady identified them as a new species, S. fragilissima, which roughly translates to “fragile sand pipe.” Murray and Brady had just discovered the first representative of the single-celled xenophyophores. (All animal info from

A single cell. Mysterious.
It lives in oceans—very deep—
Concealing much from all of us.
(All study means a mental leap.)

He’s somehow grown so sizable—
The largest single cell around.
He cannot be too powerful—
So mystery is his home ground.

And mystery confers on each
A power that exceeds all size.
And so while Nature seeks to teach,
We listen closely, strain our eyes.

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