Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two Oddities in the Ocean

There are bizarre creatures hidden beneath the water's surface, some strangely reminiscent of the alien beings that populate distant sci-fi worlds.

Here are two that have come to my attention recently:

Barreleye (aka "Spookfish")
Barreleyes have an unusual arrangement as regards their eyes:

Did you catch that? The "dots" in the front of its face are not its eyes. Those are "olfactory organs". (Think of them as nostrils.) The eyes are the green marble-shaped things in the image below, and they're sealed within the creature's transparent head.

So incredibly weird!

Now, don't try to tell me that eyes looking at the world through a transparent head aren't a feature worthy of the latest alien life-form to pop up on Star Trek. Just admit it. This is the kind of thing you'd expect to see in the Star Wars cantina. ;o)

To truly appreciate this one, you have to see a video of it in action. What sets these fascinating animals miles apart from the usual is their ability to dramatically (and instantly) change the appearance of their skin. Sure, it can change its color and/or colorization pattern-- either for camouflage (when hiding from predators) or to stand out (when mesmerizing its prey or attracting a mate)-- but even more amazingly, it can change the very texture of its skin, from smooth to spiky and back again.

There are a few nice video clips of cuttlefish here, or you can always check out YouTube, which is where I found this video:

Pretty impressive!