1. Jethro says

    In order: Yes. Yes, but only because I think you in particular are somewhat trustworthy.

  2. says

    Some breed of coral, would be my first guess…

    [checks a perhaps-inobvious source of info on the thingie in the picture]

    …and I’d be wrong. Well, well. Weird little beastie(s).

  3. sugarfrosted says

    I think I know what animal it is exactly, but I feel bad revealing it. Tunicates are a weird subphylum.

  4. Owlmirror says

    The picture link says Botryllus planus; the WikiP page for Botryllus says:

    “Botryllus is a genus of colonial ascidian tunicates in the family Styelidae.”

    So sugarfrosted@#2 is correct. Dingdingding!

    Tunicates are freaking weird.

  5. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Where is the fekkin’ “chord”?

    In the larval stage. Once they find a spot and settle down, they lose it.

  6. lumipuna says

    It’s uncle Harry. I always said that sessile lifestyle isn’t good for his shape.

  7. clsi says

    But is it “an animal,” singular, or a colony of many animals? A solitary tunicate typically has two siphons: one for taking stuff in, and one for sending it out. As I understand it, in this colonial tunicate, each of the smallest holes we see in the photo is an inlet siphon, and the larger holes are shared outlet siphons. For another example (with explanation), see,_Bare_Island.jpg

    So is that a single organism or many? How about if it started as a few different colonies that merged into one as they grew?

  8. Bruce Keeler says

    Hmm. The wikipedia article on tunicates says:

    The use of tunicates as a source of biofuel is being researched. The cellulose body wall can be broken down and converted into ethanol

    Huh? I thought cellulose was exclusive to plant cell walls?

  9. blf says

    Define “single organism”.

    Well, the mildly deranged penguin is certainly singular, much to the relief of all the multiverses.

  10. mikehuben says

    Tunicates may be weirder than we think. WHOLE GENOME COMPARISONS REVEALS A POSSIBLE CHIMERIC ORIGIN FOR A MAJOR METAZOAN ASSEMBLAGE. This paper suggests: “The simplest explanation is that the modern tunicate (as represented by Ciona intestinalis) began as a hybrid between a primitive vertebrate and some other organism, perhaps from an extinct and unidentified protostome phylum.” This echoes ideas from “The Origins of Larvae”, which I thought could always be tested by genome comparison.

  11. cherbear says

    Colonial tunicate? We used to get them (not this particular species) growing all over oyster boxes when I used to work for an oyster farm.

  12. cherbear says

    They were real pests too. The star tunicate I believe. I was under the impression they were an invasive species.