Cyphophthalmids wait for the mountain to come to them Published 31 August 2007 Pettalidae are a family of Cyphophthalmi, what are called the mite-like harvestmen. Cyphophthalmids are a fairly small group as far as is known, with probably less than fifty described species, but the number of species has been rapidly increasing in recent years.… Continue reading Cyphophthalmi


I can’t think of a clever title involving gastrotrichs Published 27 August 2007 In this section, we dive underwater and scrabble in the mud in search of the gatrotrich family Dactylopodolidae. Just kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Gastrotrichs are minute (usually less than 1 mm) aquatic ‘worms’ that are one of those… Continue reading Dactylopodolidae


More really ugly fish Published 22 August 2007 Far below the surface of the oceans lies the bizarre world of deep-sea fish, where life gets really ugly—because where there’s no light and no-one can see you, you can really let yourself go. I thought I’d put in a mention of what are arguably among the… Continue reading Anguilliformes


Our faceless cousins? Published 13 August 2007 A paper has appeared in PLoS One by Philippe et al. on the phylogenetic position of Acoela in the animal evolutionary tree (freely available at the link). Acoela are a smallish group (only a few hundred described species) of marine “worms”, superficially similar to flatworms (Platyhelminthes) in appearance.… Continue reading Acoela


Holarctic subterranean amphipods, Batman! Published 7 August 2007 Meet Crangonyx. Crangonyx is the type genus of the amphipod family Crangonyctidae. This is an entirely Holarctic family (Holsinger 1986) that shows an interesting tendency towards a subterranean lifecycle. When Holsinger reviewed the family in 1986, 126 of the 154 known species where stygobionts (exclusively cave-dwelling). More… Continue reading Crangonyx


The ways of water bears Published 6 August 2007 Tardigrades are microscopic invertebrates commonly referred to as ‘water bears’. I have elsewhere referred to tardigrades as possibly the cutest of all invertebrates, and I see no reason to retract that statement. Some forms put me in mind of nothing so much as little eight-legged versions… Continue reading Arthrotardigrada


I can has mutant larvae? Published 2 August 2007 Let me introduce you (assuming you’ve not already met) to the giant planktonic larva Planctosphaera pelagica Spengel, 1932. ‘Giant’ is, of course, a relative term. The roughly spherical Planctosphaera reaches about 10mm in diameter (van der Horst 1936) or even 25mm (Williamson 2001). Compared to its… Continue reading Hemichordata


(Possibly) the world’s smallest tetrapods Published 11 July 2007 The subject of today’s post are proturans. Proturans are rather unique little hexapods (though not, by the currently used definition, insects) that are apparently widespread despite being rarely seen (Imadaté 1991). I have to confess that I’ve never seen one yet in my time in entomology—I… Continue reading Protura


The return of Buddenbrockia Published 9 July 2007 The mysterious worm Buddenbrockia plumatellae Schröder 1910 is among those animals listed by Haszprunar et al. (1991) as an “extant problematicum”. So it was certainly of interest when the true identity of this critter was rather unexpectedly resolved (Okamura et al. 2002). Further work on the position… Continue reading Myxozoa


Return to monkey Published 5 July 2007 I hardly feel that this group needs much introduction. The Anthropoidea (the name means ‘man-like’) are the monkeys, and everyone knows what a monkey is (Groucho Marx supposedly once claimed that the word ‘duck’ was the funniest in the English language, but I’m sure that the word ‘monkey’… Continue reading Anthropoidea