The Longing of the Barnacle
We are in the middle of the Nobel Prizes for this year. Something that took a long time: the direct detection of gravitational waves / wrinkles in time. Two black holes that produced some collided a really long, long time ago ~ more than a billion years ago! This is a good article by Nadia Drake on it: Gravitational Waves won the Physics Nobel Prize - Here's Why.
You can get Daddy Longlegs for free today, with the coupon code ET23A.
Back to the barnacle. It qualifies because it is the champion of long-distance relationships. It is one of the most fascinating creatures I have ever read about. Here is a cross-section drawing of one, done by George Sowerby. An etching based on this sketch appears in Ocean Wonders: A Companion for the Seaside. I love the text appearing before the image:
"...if they would explain to us its meaning, but which at present is not perfectly understood by naturalists. In this sudden awakening of the social instinct the barnacle does not use its regular net-like hand, but puts forth a single long tentacle, reaching over and among a dozen perhaps of its neighbors, extending a distance of some inches. Sometimes it penetrates with this into the openings of the other shells, as if it would inform itself as to their continued existence orcondition of health; but, having finished its inspection, it quickly retracts and hides* within its own shell. The barnacle sheds its coat at intervals like the crab; but much more frequently does it discard the thin, transparent epidermis which covers the beautifully-barbed fingers. This it throws off as neatly and completely as one could remove a nicely-fitting glove from the hand. These cast-off barnacle-gloves, with their minute hair-like barbs, form an interest-ing object for examination under the microscope."
A more modern description: Poorly-endowed barnacles overthrow 150-year old belief, by Ed Yong.
More fascinating stuff:
Mating barnacles from Casey Dunn on Vimeo.
This one is a goose-neck barnacle (Goose barnacles are not hatched from a barnacle goose, which is not kosher, but could be eaten as fish on Fridays by Catholics), from Zoology for High Schools and Colleges. They are very attractive.
I might as well add another link: NSU researcher Discovers Unique Anatomical Characteristic in Barnacle Study by Joe Donzelli