The 27 Best Deep-Sea Species: #7 Predatory Tunicates

#7: Megalodicopia hians (Phylum: Chordata, Class: Ascidiacea , Order: Phlebobranchia, Family: Octacnemidae)

This tunicate post is dedicated to Miriam. Those invertebrate sacs are one of our closest living invertebrate
relatives.  Let’s hear it for notochords and pharyngeal slits!

Most sea squirts are harmless little buggers that filter plankton out of the water column.  Water comes in through one siphon and out another (the in- and excurrent siphons). One group of sea squirts stands out-the family Octacnemidae.  The several genera in family have hypertrophied oral siphons (that’s just fun to say-hypertrophied oral siphon) that form two large lips creating an oral hood.  Anchored to the bottom, the wait until an unsuspecting small crustacean swims by. Then WAMM the large lips clamp close and its bye bye little arthropod.  Think Venus Fly trap but marine, deeper (200m to 3800m), and cooler.

Megalodicopia are also gender benders with both male and female bits.  Yeah simultaneous hermaphrodites!  If an individual cannot get any loving from a nearby predatory tunicate it gets busy with itself.

Feeding video here

5 Replies to “The 27 Best Deep-Sea Species: #7 Predatory Tunicates”

  1. Gotta be careful – those tunicates, they will cut you!

    (fyi, blog back in a few – transitioning out of the davis womb…)

  2. Yay Dr. Byrnes! Trust me I know how difficult it is to be outside the protective cocoon of the UC-Davis campus. Its amazing the world outside of UCD can function at all.

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