Giant string-like creature composed of "millions of interconnected clones" found off the coast of Australia

I'm currently re-discovering Jeff Van Der Meer's Area X / Southern Reach Trilogy via Audible, because I thought a familiar Weird Sci-Fi story about an invisible lifeform that kind of ambiently inhabits the world around us, changing things in imperceptible ways until it's too late, would be a relaxing respite from the chaotic news of COVID-19.

That may have been a bad decision. I'm even more terrified now. Then I learned about this in Newsweek:

A team aboard the RV Falkor—the flagship research vessel of the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI)—spotted the organism, a type of siphonophore known as Apolemia, using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in a deep-sea environment known as the Ningaloo Canyons.

[…]

Resembling a long piece of string, siphonophores—a group of creatures related to jellyfish and corals—may look like one organism, but they are actually made up of many thousands of individual, specialized clones that come together to form a single entity.

With the help of lasers mounted onto their ROV—known as SuBastian—the Falkor scientists estimated that this siphonophore's outer ring measured 49 feet in diameter, suggesting that this section alone is 154 foot in length, or about as tall as an 11-story building.

As I've now learned, these things are in fact "colonial organisms," rather than individual beings. Read the rest

Coconut crab is frighteningly large

On the plus side, that means it makes a great comic photo prop. Here, blogger Angelo O'Connor Villagomez plays Edward Crabhands.

Native to a wide range of Pacific islands, the crabs used to be plentiful. Sadly, they're one of those creatures that humans have eaten into being an endangered species. These crabs can live for up to 60 years and (get this) they're not even the largest species of crab in the world. That would be the Japanese spider crab.

See a slideshow of coconut crab photos at Environmental Graffiti

Via Craig McClain

Read the rest