Invertebrate Battle Royal Roundup


The battle royal is on with several bloggers choosing colors. The whole thing got started when Sheril at the Intersucktion state “No contest! Cukes would eat squid for breakfast” implying that somehow echinoderms were better than Mollusks. The whole thing got started when this guy, who seems to be a fan of plants, was “joking” about which was cooler. I personally don’t find any of this a joke. Mollusks are cool and I’ve banked my career on it. Bora also wants to start something, but thankfully I realize he is just confused.

I tried to clear the matter up for Sheril and others indicating that Mollusks were way cooler than “an organism whose idea of fun is spewing its organs all over you or creating poop trails.” Sheril suggested that I framed the issue wrong by choosing an inappropriate sea cucumber video and instead proposed this. Meanwhile Dr. Joan jumped on the cucumber bandwagon. Cucumber bandwagon….mmm pickles!

I followed up with a suggestion that to believe than any other phyla than Mollusks were superior was absurd. I hinted at the extreme range of body sizes exhibited by Mollusks, 11 orders of magnitude, was far greater than echinoderms with only 8.

Kevin noted that the U.S. Coast Guard was also on record as supporting mollusks as the best marine invertebrate. The full weight of the journal Nature is too.

Kevin seems to be wavering however suggesting that primitive barnacles could be a contender. I have a feeling he was lead astray by Ed Yong’s post on mantis shrimp. Although Ed has appeared to get his act together and joined Team Mollusk with a wonderful post on squid beaks. Kevin appears to still be a traitor using his “other blog” to disseminate evil.

I pointed to both the radula and the existence of gastropods parasitic on echinoderms was a major blow to echinoderm coolness. Jim’s retort was the rather lame Aristotle’s Lantern which he proposed was better than radula. I quickly smacked that argument down. Others Jim?

Snail at the second best blog (but with a better name) on the net , A Snail’s Eye View, pointed us all to the fact that Google Fight gave the definitive answer on which group was best. I can always count on Jason at Cephalopodcast as well. UPDATE: Snail delivers another blow.

Of course I am just waiting for Myriam to pipe up about the freakin’ tunicates. I got a post already for that one.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

14 Replies to “Invertebrate Battle Royal Roundup”

  1. I’m surprised no one has stood up to defend the polychaete with those vicious eversible jaws!

  2. An onslaught against echinoderms like this requires me to marshal a collection of photogenic specimens against you.

    Just one other area in which echinoderms trounce molluscs is negligible senescence; some urchins, they just keep going- up to 200 years! Switching the emphasis from species numbers to overall biomass, echinoderms are one of the most abundant groups in the ocean depths.

  3. Just one other area in which echinoderms trounce molluscs is negligible senescence; some urchins, they just keep going- up to 200 years!

    I spoke too soon and forgot Ming the ocean quahog, who is estimated at about 405 years old. So I’ll have to hand it to molluscs when it comes to senescence.

  4. Based on models derived from in situ growth rates, the tubeworm Lamellibrachia luymesi can live for over 250 years, possibly up to 400-500 years if their sulphide supply is maintained.

  5. What’s up with the oystergarter and their affinity for tunicates? Don’t they realize that molluscs are in their URL. Ipso facto, if you ask me.

  6. the tubeworm Lamellibrachia luymesi can live for over 250 years, possibly up to 400-500 years

    If you want to be really impressed, check out the Hexactinellid sponge, Scolymastra joubini.

    One two meter high specimen in the Ross Sea was estimated to be 23,000 years old, though because of sea level fluctuations in the Ross Sea it is unlikely that such an animal could have lived for more than 15,000 years. Even if 15,000 years is an overestimate, which may well be the case, this specimen appears to be the longest-lived animal on earth.

  7. Arthropods beat out both for population and species diversity, and even the subphylum crustaceans beat out mollusks on Google Fight. Crabs rock!

    OK, but clearly mollusks are superior to echinoderms. They’re tastier too. No contest.

  8. Jason – the molluscs may be in our URL, but the tunicates are in our hearts. That is why my heart has such a lovely incurrent and excurrent siphon.

    Craig – I’ve been all busy doing SCIENCE but your molluscs will experience an epic fail later tonight. Down with protostomes! Up with deuterostomes!

  9. Xeip, colonial organisms don’t count!! There are reefs of the cold water coral Lophelia pertusa off of Norway estimated to be around 10000+ years old too.

  10. Snail, you’re in my gang in the playground. There is little more satisfying (with your clothes on, anyway) than cracking open a nodule and finding a nice fattie of an ammonite.

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