NPR had a very interesting story this morning about the tree lobster, a 12 cm long flightless insect from Australia. Thought to be extinct since the 1920s due to the accidental introduction of black rats to Lord Howe Island, biologist found one small group of them living on one plant way up a mountain on a tiny island off the coast. It’s a very interesting story about invasive species and conservation.
Australia definitely isn’t the only place with huge insects. Check out this beetle we ran into in Hopkins, Belize last summer.
Giant bugs are part of the adventure, right?
What’s the craziest insect or animal you’ve ever run into?
Have you ever been strolling the beach and suddenly said, “What the heck is THAT?”
During our Christmas trip to Florida, we made a stop at Bald Point State Park, and as we hiked up and down the beach, we came across this thing, and that is exactly what we said.
We did all the usual scientific testing, you know, nudging it with our toes, poking it, nudging it again, and I think someone even sniffed it. We still had no idea until we spent an hour on Google.
The strange blobs all over the beach weren’t aliens, whale organs or any of the other interesting guesses our Facebook friends made. They’re called Tunicates, and they’re invertebrate marine filter feeders, more commonly known as sea squirts, sea pork, sea livers, or sea tulips.
Some tunicates, like the sea pineapple, are even edible. But would you eat this?
These particular tunicates got the nickname sea pork because after death, the rubbery tunic bleaches to white resembling salt pork or fatback.
So next time your friends say, “What the heck is that thing?”, you can tell them.