Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History SI Dept. Invertebrate Zoology & affiliates NOAA/NMFS National Systematics Lab. and USDA National Parasite Collection.
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News from and about the NMNH Dept. Invertebrate Zoology & its affiliates: NOAA/NMFS National Systematics Laboratory and USDA National Parasite Collection.

Another summary of fresh research focused on hydrozoan cnidarians, including some conducted in our department.
04/26/2020

Another summary of fresh research focused on hydrozoan cnidarians, including some conducted in our department.

It's being a rough year so far, so what about some hydrozoan news to brighten your day? The first 2020 issue of the Hydrozoan Bulletin features new findings on novel taxonomical tools, beneficial relationships, mysterious little red jellyfish, rare siphonophores and more. Enjoy!

1. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4732.1.5
2. doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz166
3. doi.org/10.3390/d12020078
4. doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2019.106578
5. doi.org/10.1111/geb.13074
6. doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00798

We all need art. The science of invertebrates is no different in that regard.
04/15/2020
Why Science Needs Art

We all need art. The science of invertebrates is no different in that regard.

From teaching curious museumgoers to adding creativity to the scientific process, art is an essential component of the science done at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

04/09/2020
Otherworldly, string-like organism spotted in deep sea is made up of "millions of interconnected clones"

Woo! Former IZ postdoc Dr. Rebecca Helm quoted in NEWSWEEK regarding the giant siphonophore observed y the Falkor in Australia! https://www.newsweek.com/otherworldly-150-foot-long-string-like-organism-deep-sea-millions-interconnected-clones-1496512?utm_source=GoogleNewsstandTech&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Partnerships

"I've gone on numerous expeditions and have never, ever, seen anything like this," said researcher Rebecca Helm.

04/07/2020
Schmidt Ocean Institute

Astonishing! A GIANT siphonophore.. a colonial animal that is basically a linear jellyfish..observed by the Falkor off the south western coast of Australia. spotted in a spiral ring nearly 50 FEET (15 m) in diameter! More in the post for the video!

Check out this beautiful *giant* siphonophore Apolemia recorded on #NingalooCanyons expedition. It seems likely that this specimen is the largest ever recorded, and in strange UFO-like feeding posture. Thanks @Caseywdunn (on Twitter) for ID and information. This footage gathered with Collaborators from Western Australian Museum, Geoscience Australia, Curtin University, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Thanks to Australian Marine Parks.

On Twitter, the most frequent question about this footage is by far: "How big is it?" While we don't have exact size, Remotely Operated Vehicle (#ROV) #SuBastian's pilot used INS and USBL systems to estimate the outer ring diameter at approximately 15 meters (49ft), so just that ring *alone* seems to be close to 47m (154ft)!

It is easy to see why Wikipedia mentions that Apolemia's nickname is "long stringy stingy thingy" (seriously: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apolemia_uvaria ). However, this does NOT give a fair insight to the amazing complexity of these animals. One of our previous Instagram posts from a previous expedition goes into much depth about these amazing creatures and their bewildering formations ( https://instagram.com/p/B9CXpzmBp-6/ ). Here is a shortened version:

It is hard to explain siphonophores without sounding like we are describing a beast out of a science-fiction novel: There are over 180 known species of gelatinous strings called siphonophores, and some can grow to 130 feet (40 m), longer than a blue whale, which is usually considered Earth's largest animal (however, even the biggest siphonophore's body isn’t much bigger around than a broomstick). But instead of growing as a single body like virtually every other animal, tiny individual siphonophores (zooids) clone themselves 1000’s of times over into half a dozen different types of specialized bodies, all strung together to work as a team. In short, despite different functions, all the individuals in colony are genetically identical!
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“In a way these specialized bodies function as organs,” said marine biologist Stefan Siebert of Brown University who studies these glorious creatures with the help of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). “Some move the colony, some feed for the colony, some take care of reproduction.” Whereas creatures like you and me have over millennia evolved different parts of our bodies to work as organs, siphonophores have evolved individual bodies themselves into organs. It’s a bit like your liver up and declaring independence from the rest of you, even though it can't go anywhere.
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Looking at their body plan or hunting strategy, siphonophores pose an interesting question: What exactly is individuality? “The whole thing looks like one animal, but it’s many thousands of individuals which form an entity on a higher level,” said Siebert. “So it's a really tricky question. And what's a colony? Humans are colonies—we are colonies of single cells.” Of course, ants and bees form colonies as well. But what siphonophores have been up to for all these millions of years is another thing entirely. They’re individuals within individuals.
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(Thanks to Matthew Simon over at WIRED for this great description - check out his article online, where much of this info is condensed from from: https://www.wired.com/2014/08/absurd-creature-of-the-week-siphonophore/)

One of the greats for sure. Dr. Mary Rice is a Smithsonian treasure!
03/02/2020

One of the greats for sure. Dr. Mary Rice is a Smithsonian treasure!

Mary E. Rice (1926- ) was the second female curator in the museum's Invertebrate Zoology Department and the founding director of the Smithsonian Marine Station and Ecosystems Exhibit in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Rice's main interest has been ‘peanut’ worms (called sipuncula), a family of marine worms found worldwide and from the shore to the deep sea. She studied their reproduction and development and compared them to other worms and more distantly related invertebrates.

Invertebrates have a huge impact on the ocean ecosystems we rely upon; among other things, the larger animals we harvest depend on tiny plankton as a food source directly and indirectly. Through her research, Rice has helped gain a better understanding of marine invertebrate development as a whole, and the role it plays in their ability to reproduce, disperse, and adapt to different ocean environments.

Although she retired in 2002, Mary Rice is still publishing new research, including at least two publications in 2019 alone. #BecauseOfHerStory #WomensHistoryMonth #WomenInSTEM

For the past year our live animal room, known affectionately as the IZ AquaRoom, has received funding from the Smithsoni...
02/25/2020

For the past year our live animal room, known affectionately as the IZ AquaRoom, has received funding from the Smithsonian Women's Committee. Thanks to their generous support, we were able to support six different interns with stipends and significantly expand the "capabilities" in the room. We've been able to inspire enthusiastic students, create more jellyfish knowledge, add to our collections, and generate plenty of data that will yield scientific papers.

If you want to support the Smithsonian Women's Committee so that they can turn that around and support other aspects of this great institution, you can head to twitter and follow @CraftShowSWC, visit their Craft Show this April 23 to 26, and share the announcement. https://smithsoniancraftshow.org/?fbclid=IwAR3OLMpT-zvvGmRoBYGyCjvc7OcYS90fzrHzeKvpSYoL3XuzaAL-HvPVjHw

#SmithsonianCraftShowsSWC

Super cool work on germ cell specification.
02/14/2020

Super cool work on germ cell specification.

We ❤️Science..Dr. Christine Schnitzler collaborates to find significant gene that impacts reproductive cell development during an animal's lifetime using the cnidarian Hydractinia - see the paper in Science! Authors include former Whitney graduate student now Swarthmore visiting assistant professor Tim Dubuc !

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6479/757

IZ NOAA affiliate Dr. Allen Collins and postdoc Cheryl Ames: The mystery of mucous grenades in jellyfish!! https://www.s...
02/13/2020
Stinging Water Mystery Solved: Jellyfish Can Sting Swimmers, Prey With ‘Mucus Grenades’

IZ NOAA affiliate Dr. Allen Collins and postdoc Cheryl Ames: The mystery of mucous grenades in jellyfish!! https://www.si.edu/newsdesk/releases/stinging-water-mystery-solved-jellyfish-can-sting-swimmers-prey-mucus-grenades

In warm coastal waters around the world, swimmers can often spot large groups of jellyfish pulsing rhythmically on the seafloor. Unless properly prepared with protective clothing, it is best to steer clear of areas that Cassiopea, or upside-down jellyfish inhabit: getting too close can lead to irrit...

A great cultural reference in our collection from John Steinbeck's famous "Sea of Cortez" travel epic! An octopus collec...
02/01/2020

A great cultural reference in our collection from John Steinbeck's famous "Sea of Cortez" travel epic! An octopus collected from Baja California by Steinbeck and Ed "Doc" Ricketts of Cannery Rowe fame! presented here by Museum Specialist Katie A.!

Did you know John Steinbeck collected octopuses? Case in point: USNM 816369, an Octopus horridus.

In 1940, after the publication of The Grapes of Wrath, the American author joined an expedition to the Gulf of California (aka Sea of Cortez) with his friend, marine biologist Ed Rickets. Together, they wrote an account of their trip, which Steinbeck revised and republished in 1951 under the title “The Log from the Sea of Cortez.”

According to our records, Rickets and Steinbeck found this specimen on the north side of the Gulf's Angeles Bay on April 1, 1940, "on [a] sand flat under rock."

Two recent @NMNH postdocs, Simon Brandl and Jordan Casey, have a new paper out with IZ's Christopher Meyer on what DNA m...
01/31/2020

Two recent @NMNH postdocs, Simon Brandl and Jordan Casey, have a new paper out with IZ's Christopher Meyer on what DNA meta-barcode libraries can tell us about the prey items of tiny fish on a reef. Spoiler: They eat lots of crustaceans. But how do they partition the available crusty smorgasbord? And how does that relate to where they can make a living on the reef. Find out: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00338-020-01892-z

Stylasterid "corals" hydrozoans with skeletons rather than "proper" hard corals.. This nice shelf collection from the Al...
01/22/2020

Stylasterid "corals" hydrozoans with skeletons rather than "proper" hard corals.. This nice shelf collection from the Aleutians, among them a new species described in 1991 collected by a crab fisherman!

Here's the backstory of this coral-filled #DrawerOfTheDay, courtesy of Smithsonian emeritus curator Stephen Cairns: “I described the new genus and new species Cyclohelia lamellata in 1991, based on one specimen collected by a crab fisherman. It is not usually good form to describe a new species based on one specimen from a generalized location, but this specimen was so different from any other stylasterid. Almost all of the 330 species of stylasterids are branching in colony form, whereas this one is flabellate (fan-shaped). Since 1991, NOAA has collected extensively in the Aleutian Islands, and this species has been collected many more times, thus the full drawer!”

As usual, the community studying various aspects of the biology of hydrozoan cnidarians has been busy! From transcriptom...
01/22/2020

As usual, the community studying various aspects of the biology of hydrozoan cnidarians has been busy! From transcriptomes to behavioral responses in fish to blooms . . . The Hydrozoan Bulletin has it covered.

The end of last year brought us new research on freshwater hydromedusae, fossil hydrozoans, undescribed jellyfish, and neuromuscular systems, among other things. Check out some of these findings in the goodbye-2019 issue of the #HydrozoanBulletin!

1. doi.org/10.1017/jpa.2019.91
2. doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.900.38850
3. doi.org/10.1016/j.margen.2019.100726
4. doi.org/10.1007/s12237-019-00675-2
5. doi.org/10.1002/cne.24821
6. doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191053

01/19/2020
Bob Harrigan - ABC 7

A cool video from Sarasota, Florida showing off a big bunch of swimming sea hares! Perhaps Aplysia or something similar!

Strange looking fish known as the "Spanish Dancer" fish was captured by @Sherry Edwards recently in a canal in Sarasota. Cool looking fish that are called a nudibranch,sea slug, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Hexabranchidae.

Such tragic news. She helped so many people.
12/20/2019

Such tragic news. She helped so many people.

It’s with a great deal of sadness that we share the news that Sherry Reed, the Station Manager at Smithsonian Marine Station, passed away on Monday December 16th. Sherry joined the Smithsonian Marine Station in August 1983. She was hired as a Research Assistant to help with the Visiting Scientist Program at the station. She headed field operations and served as Diving Officer for the Smithsonian Marine Station until her promotion to Station Manager in 2015. Sherry was a member of a number of professional organizations. She served on the Board of Directors of both the American Academy of Underwater Sciences and the International Women Divers Hall of Fame, the latter of which she was inducted into in 2002. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

From Haeckel to Sargassum colonists. . .  Check out new knowledge on hydrozoan cnidarians!
12/06/2019

From Haeckel to Sargassum colonists. . . Check out new knowledge on hydrozoan cnidarians!

The latest issue of the #HydrozoanBulletin features new insights into the morphology of the Portuguese man of war, unique reproductive strategies of Sarsia lovenii, genetic clues to understand immortality, and more.

Take a look at some of the latest discoveries in Hydrozoan research from September-October 2019!

1. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4669.1.1
doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4683.1.1
2. doi.org/10.1534/g3.119.400487
3. doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5608
4. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51842-1
5. doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7814
6. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52026-7

IZ represented for NMNH 2017 Scientific Achievement awards by NMNH Research Associate Keith Bayha and Curator and @NOAAF...
11/27/2019

IZ represented for NMNH 2017 Scientific Achievement awards by NMNH Research Associate Keith Bayha and Curator and @NOAAFisheries affiliate Allen Collins for research clarifying the identities of sea nettle jellyfishes of the US Atlantic coast. Photo op with Director Kirk Johnson!

On soft robotics and pelagic worms. . .
11/06/2019
Tech Imitates Life: Sneaky Sea Worm Inspires Soft Robots

On soft robotics and pelagic worms. . .

Article Tech Imitates Life: Sneaky Sea Worm Inspires Soft Robots A tomopterid found by Smithsonian researcher Karen Osborn in the Gulf of California. (Karen Osborn, Smithsonian) by Jaimee-Ian Rodriguez Technology is evolving faster than ever, and that means sci-fi fantasies of human-like androids an...

Hydrozoan biology research summary!
10/29/2019

Hydrozoan biology research summary!

Here we go again!

This time, the July-August 2019 issue of the #HydrozoanBulletin is a throwback to last summer, featuring diverse hydrozoan findings including dietary analysis, swimming dynamics, colony formation and a revolutionary study on the fate of stem cells in Hydra. Give it a look!

1. doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics4030044
2. doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2019.08.019
3. doi.org/10.3390/jmse7090288
4. doi.org/10.1016/j.rsma.2019.100746
5. doi.org/10.1086/705113
doi.org/10.1007/s00435-019-00460-6
6. dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aav9314

Yeah, that's Adam Savage with a model of a giant squid eye in his hands. FANTASTIC piece with videos of Adam visiting th...
09/20/2019
Adam Savage goes behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's Exhibits Central

Yeah, that's Adam Savage with a model of a giant squid eye in his hands. FANTASTIC piece with videos of Adam visiting the amazing Smithsonian Exhibit Fabricators. And check out the bit on hyperiid eyes studied by the Karen Osborn lab!

While Adam was in DC recently for the Apollo 50th Anniversary celebration (and to do the final assembly on the wonderful Project Egress NASA escape hatch project), he visited the Smithsonian’…

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Comments

Can anyone identify this? To my untrained eye it looks like part of a worm, found it in my bathroom sink. This specimen is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch long.
This is a spawning helmet urchin. From the Seattle Aquarium.
What are the kinds of invertebrate?
The Importance of Natural History
Worth a re-posting... "While standing in line for a job interview during WWII, she overheard that men standing in the next line were going to get paid much more than those in her line. She then switched lines and became a spot welder, rather than a typist."
Former SI PhD students hit the big-time;-)
OK, these are not invertebrates but the invertebrate story is much more scary!
#ICYMI For some of us, everyday is jellyfish day. ;-)
And this is how passionate some of us are about documenting meiofauna!
Thanks Maikon Di Domenico and Ulf Jondelius for reminding of a wonderful shout-out for beach MEIOFAUNA by E.O. Wilson and Robert Krulwich. No offense to E.O. but there are not just 14 phyla in the sand; there are more than 20.