Sea mouse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sea mouse
Aphrodita aculeata.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Phyllodocida
Suborder: Aphroditoidea
Family: Aphroditidae
Genus: Aphrodita
Binomial name
Aphrodita aculeata
Linnaeus, 1758[1]

The sea mouse, Aphrodita aculeata, is a marine polychaete worm found in the North Atlantic, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. The sea mouse normally lies buried head-first in the sand. It has been found at depths of over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft).[2]

Etymology[edit]

The name of the genus is taken from Aphrodite, the Ancient Greek goddess of love. This is because, when viewed ventrally, the animal resembles a human female's genitalia. The English name may either have a similar meaning, or may derive from the supposed resemblance to a bedraggled mouse when washed up on shore.[3] The specific name aculeata is the Latin for spiny.

Description[edit]

The body of the sea mouse is covered in a dense mat of setae (hairlike structures).[4] Adults generally fall within a size range of 7.5 to 15 centimetres (3.0 to 5.9 in), but some grow to 30 centimetres (12 in). They have been described as scavengers,[4] but are known to be active predators on other polychaete worms, both active and sedentary species, including Pectinaria and Lumbriconereis, feeding by night; prey is swallowed whole, head first, and long prey like the king ragworm Nereis virens take a long time to ingest.[5]

Structural coloration[edit]

Further information: Structural coloration

The spines, or setae,[4] on the scaled back of the sea mouse are one of its unique features. Normally, these have a deep red sheen, warning off predators, but when the light shines on them perpendicularly, they flush green and blue, a "remarkable example of photonic engineering by a living organism". This structural coloration is a defense mechanism, giving a warning signal to potential predators. The effect is produced by many hexagonal cylinders within the spines, which "perform much more efficiently than man-made optical fibres".[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ WoRMS: Aphrodita aculeata Linnaeus, 1758
  2. ^ a b "Sea mouse promises bright future". BBC News (BBC). January 3, 2001. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ Warren, Rebecca; van Zyl, Miezan; O'Rourke, Ruth; Tokeley, Amber; Heilman, Christine, eds. (2006). "Ocean Life". Ocean: The World's Last Wilderness Revealed (first American ed.). New York City: DK Publishing. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-7566-2205-3. 
  4. ^ a b c "sea mouse". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ Tyler, Lizzie. "BIOTIC Species Information for Aphrodita aculeata". MARLIN. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 

External links[edit]