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GROUP 6: PRIMITIVE ANIMALS
Nautiluses are ancient members of the class Cephalopoda, which
includes the most highly evolved marine mollusks. These animals
have survived almost unchanged for about 550 million years.
Shell diameter: 4-11 in.
Weight: 13 lb.
Sexual maturity: 6 months.
Mating season: Probably year-
No. of eggs: Usually about 10.
Each is 1 ~ - 2 in. long.
Habit: Social; living in groups.
Diet: A variety of crustaceans
and dead or living fish.
There are some 700 species in
the class Cephalopoda. The single
genus of living nautiluses is divided
into 6 species, including Nautilus
pompilius, N. scrobiculatus, and N.
macromphalus. They are descen-
dants of ammonites.
FEATURES OF NAUTILUSES
Range of nautiluses.
The various nautilus species are found in parts of the Indian
Ocean and the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
Nautiluses are hunted for their shells. Although these animals
were once numerous throughout their range, they are becom-
ing increasingly rare. As a result, captive breeding programs
have been set up.
Shell: A slim spiral consisting of
several successive chambers,
which are added as the nautilus
ages. Faint growth rings appear
on the outside.
Hood: A shield-
the shafts of 4
organs are in
chamber of its
shell. They in-
©MCMXCVI IMP BV/ IMP INC. WILDLIFE FACT FILpM
of gills and
Eye: Simple and mini-
mally effective, picking
up only changes in light.
Tentacles: Emerge from the shell at
night when the nautilus feeds. Chem-
ical receptors on the tips allow the
animal to "taste" the surrounding wa-
ter and locate prey on the seabed.
They also stabilize the nautilus and
help draw food toward its mouth.
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Nautiluses, which are sometimes referred to as chamber
snails or pearly boats, are found in parts of the Indian
and Pacific oceans. There are several forms of these sea
creatures, but each one has a flat, many-chambered shell
that contains small amounts of liquid as well as a gaseous
mixture. By distributing the gases within its shell, the
animal is able to control the depth at which it lives.
Nautiluses mostly live at depths
of 75 to 2,000 feet in the warm,
coastal regions of the Indian
and the southwestern Pacific
oceans. Except in the cold sea-
son, they rarely come to shore,
but they may swim toward the
surface during the night. They
orient themselves by smell and
touch rather than sight, so they
live in deep water where there
is almost no light.
Some naturalists believe that
nautiluses may migrate, but the
tales of their reaching South Af-
rica, Madagascar, New Zealand,
or Japan seem unfounded. The
shell, however, can float for
three weeks after the animal
dies, so it may drift outside the
Each nautilus adds successive
chambers to its shell as it grows.
When the animal outgrows a
cavity, it seals it off with a hard
wall. The chamber is then filled
with gas-mainly nitrogen but
also some argon and oxygen. A
full-grown adult may have up
to 29 sealed chambers. Using
its siphuncle, a tube that runs
through its body and links all
the chambers, the animal can
change the pressure inside its
shell, enabling it to rise or sink.
Right: An adult nautilus may have
as many as 90 tentacles to help it
assess its surroundings.
The mating of nautiluses has
not been seen in the wild. Cap-
tive breeding programs have
recently been established, but
there is still much to learn about
the animal's lifecycle.
The female has one ovary, at
the back of her body, and her
eggs float in an amber-colored
fluid in a transparent capsule.
She also has a small sac under
her mouth for receiving sperm.
Left: The mottled, fleshy hood of
a nautilus is made up of the fused
stems of four tentacles.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The name nautilus comes
from the Greek word for "sail-
or./I The animal was given this
name because it resembles
Argonauta nodosa, an unusual
octopus that was thought by
the ancient Greeks to use its
tentacles as sails. Argonauta is
now called the paper nauti-
lus, because of its thin shell.
The male has a penis as well
as two secondary sex organs.
One is under his mouth. The
other, called the spadix, con-
sists of modified tentacles and
is used for mating.
In captivity the female lays
eggs in December. She lays 10
large eggs in about two weeks.
In the wild the young probably
live in warm water first, before
moving to colder, deeper areas.
Right: A nautilus spends the day
resting in its shell, with its tenta-
cles drawn inside for safety.
• Nautiluses have astonishing
powers of recovery. An ani-
mal's wounds can heal within
hours, without any scars, and
its tentacles can grow again if
they are broken off.
• Nautiluses are the only sur-
viving direct descendants of
ammonites, which thrived in
oceans millions of years ago.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
A nautilus eats crabs, spiny lob-
sters, prawns, fish, and carrion
(dead animal flesh). It locates its
prey with chemical receptors at
the tips of its tentacles and near
its gills since it cannot rely on its
large but relatively undeveloped
eyes. Its eyes lack lenses and fill
with seawater, so they distin-
guish only general shapes.
Left: When it
is searching for
food, a nautilus
does not rely on
its eyes because
they are poorly
A nautilus hunts primarily at
night, searching on the seabed
for food. Although it ordinarily
swims backward, exhaling wa-
ter through its funnel, it swims
slowly forward when it is feed-
ing and samples the seabed
with its tentacles.
The animal uses its powerful,
beaklike jaw to chew its food. It
bites off large pieces of flesh and
then pulls them into its mouth
with its bristly tongue. A nauti-
lus can spend 30 hours digest-
ing a meal. Itthen uses its four
kidneys to process the wastes.
Left: Nautilus flesh is edible, but
the animal's shell is more valuable
COMMON BRITTLE STAR
'"'--___________ PRIMITIVE ANIMALS
GENUS &: SPECIES
The common brittle star is a spiny-shinned sea creature related
to starfish. It feeds by combing the water with its five highly
flexible limbs and trapping tiny floating animals.
Length of limbs: Up to 4 in.
Width of disk: Up to 1 in.
Breeding season: Mainly in sum-
mer, when the water is warm and
food is abundant. Other times if
conditions are right.
Reproductive method: Each sex
ejects eggs or sperm into water.
Larvae: Mobile, planktonic.
Habit: Lives in groups on the
seabed or among rocks below
low tide level.
Diet: Small, floating planktonic
There are about 1,600 species of
brittle star throughout the world.
They are related to starfish, sea
lilies, sea urchins, and sea cucum-
bers-ali known as echinoderms.
Range of the common brittle star.
The common brittle star is widely distributed in the eastern
North Atlantic Ocean, North Sea, and Mediterranean Sea.
The other 1,600 species of brittle star can be found in oceans
throughout the world.
Brittle stars have no commercial value and are not directly
threatened by people.
FEATURES OF THE COMMON BRITTLE STAR
Central body: Disk-shaped. It contains
the animal 's internal organs. Five iden-
tical segments radiate from the cen-
ter. Outer covering is hardened with
plates that pro-
vide flexibility. If
the brittle star
is seized, the
to help it escape.
Tube feet: Fingerlike appendages
covered with cilia (tiny hairs) and
arranged in double rows along the
limbs. They trap food floating in
the cu rrents and transfer it to a
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
OTHER BRITTLE STARS
Ophiopholis acuJeata. Usually
red. Lives under rocks on the
US P 6001 12069 PACKET 69
As its name implies, the common brittle star is easily
"broken. /I If one of its limbs is trapped under a tumbling
rock or seized by a predator like the seven-armed starfish,
the animal simply sheds the limb in an attempt to escape.
This adaptation is its main method of defense. Once the
brittle star is able to free itself, it simply grows a new
appendage to replace the one that it has lost.
The common brittle star is close-
ly related to starfish. Unlike most
animals, it does not have an ob-
vious head and tail. Instead, it
has a radial body structure, with
five identical segments radiating
from the animal's center.
The disk-shaped center sec-
tion contains the animal's main
internal organs and, on the un-
derside, its mouth. The skin of
the central disk is toughened
with calcite (calcium carbonate)
crystals that make it hard and
spiny. This outer covering is typ-
ical of brittle stars and related in-
vertebrates called echinoderms,
which means "spiny-skinned."
The limbs of a brittle star are
very different from the fairly rig-
id, fleshy limbs of a starfish. The
brittle star's long, slender appen-
dages are flexible and armored
with spiny plates of calcite. The
plates interlock somewhat like
the links of a bicycle chain, so
the brittle star can coil them in-
to tight loops, slip them into
crevices, and use them to move
through the water.
When there is plenty of food
and the water is warm enough,
female and male brittle stars
produce eggs and sperm and
then eject them into the water.
Chemical signals probably stim-
ulate the two sexes to do this at
the same time. Because brittle
stars gather in huge swarms,
some of the eggs are fertilized.
But many eggs and sperm cells
are swept away by currents
without making contact with
one another. They become
food for fish or even other brit-
Left: The interlocking plates on its
limbs make a brittle star more flexi-
ble than a starfish.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Mostly spines and bones, a
brittle star makes a poor meal
for a predator. Yet it may be
attacked by its own relative,
the seven-armed starfish, or
by bottom-feeding cod.
• A brittle star has a simple
nervous system. It can sense
which way is up, smell food
The fertilized eggs develop
into tiny larvae that are quite
unlike their parents. The larvae
drift among plankton, feeding
on microscopic plants and oth-
A larva passes through sever-
al distinct growth stages as it
drifts along. It may be carried
some distance before settling
on the seabed, where it finally
changes into an adult brittle
star. Of the hundreds of eggs
produced by each female, few-
er than 10 offspring live long
enough to breed.
Right: The common brittle star's
tube feet are arranged in double
rows along the limbs.
in the water, and assess the
feel of the seabed. Because it
has no brain, its responses are
• Some beds of brittle star
extend for miles across the
seafloor, with millions of brit-
tle stars forming a forest of
The biggest swarms of brittle
stars are found in deep water,
down to 300 feet. But you may
find brittle stars lurking under
rocks and in seaweed near the
low tidemark. If you expose
one, it will retreat because it
always hides from light. Do
FOOD &; FEEDING
In some places the sea is thick
with planktonic organisms drift-
ing with the currents. A brittle
star feeds by simply reaching
out and gathering up tiny mor-
sels as they float past-a tech-
nique called suspension feeding.
When the common brittle star
feeds, it moves its limbs through
the water and traps plankton on
a sticky mucus that oozes from
the tube feet underneath each
Left: The tube feet trap food and
then pass it along a food groove
to the central mouth.
not try to trap it since it is likely
that a limb will snap off.
limb. These small mobile "fin-
gers" are operated by hydraulic
pressure. When one of the tube
feet snares a victim, it bends and
transfers the prey to a mucus-
lined groove in the limb. The
flowing mucus carries the food
to the animal's mouth.
Brittle stars gather in huge
swarms at the best feeding sites,
where the seabed is swept by
strong currents rich in plankton.
The animals cling to rocks and
to one another while they comb
the water for food.
The goose barnacle is a small crustacean that spends its life
hanging from objects floating in the sea. Its name comes from
an old belief that geese hatched from barnacles.
Shell : About 2 in. long; made up
of 5 plates. Whitish with translu-
cent blue tinge.
Stalk: Usually 1 in. long but can
be partially retracted. Brownish
gray and leathery.
Hermaphrodite (has both male
and female sex organs). Cross-
fertilization occurs if another bar-
nacle is close enough.
Habit: Collects in large groups
that attach to floating objects.
Diet: Plankton, sand hoppers,
copepods, and isopods.
Lifespan: Up to 6 years. Many
die during nauplius stage.
There are about 900 species of bar-
nacle worldwide, including many
other species of goose barnacle in
the suborder Lepadomorpha.
Range of the goose barnacle.
Found in the northern half of the Atlantic Ocean and the
This species and the other species of goose barnacle are all
numerous within their range, even though marine engineers
have been trying to prevent them from gathering on man-
made objects. No conservation measures are necessary.
FEATURES OF THE GOOSE BARNACLE THE PUPA
1. Penis: Pro-
trudes into shell
of another bar-
nacle to deposit
from the gut.
3. Gut: Stom-
ach is linked
to and fed by
Situated in the
fleshy stalk and
connected by the oviduct.
5. Cement gland: Near
the bottom of the stalk.
Secretes a substance to
anchor the barnacle to a
© MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILE' M
6. Cirri: Barnacle
feeds by opening the
upper plates of its
shell and extending
5 pairs of limbs,
called cirri. Plankton
floating on the tide
become caught in
the hai rs that coat
these limbs. The
cirri retreat back into
the shell , taking the
prey with them.
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In its first stage of development,
the goose barnacle is a tiny nau-
plius larva. It builds up fat re-
serves as it changes into a
nonfeeding cyprid larva.
0160200631 PACKET 63
When sailing ships dominated the seas/ goose barnacles
were a major menace because they clung to the ships /
hulls in huge numbers and greatly reduced their speed.
Goose barnacles are less of a problem today because the
hulls of modern ships are treated with a special paint
that prevents these animals from settling on the hulls.
The goose barnacle lives only
in the open sea. This crustacean
has a shell made up of five thin,
whitish gray plates with a tinge
of dark blue. It also has a long,
leathery stalk, or peduncle, so it
is sometimes called the stalked
barnacle. One end of the stalk
Many barnacle species can be
found on seashore rocks, but
the goose barnacle lives only
in the open sea. Large num-
bers attach themselves to var-
anchors a barnacle to an object.
When the goose barnacle's
shell is open, a bunch of feath-
ery tentacles, called cirri, appear.
The cirri are the equivalent of
the legs found on other crus-
taceans, and they are used to
ious objects, from buoys and
pieces of wood to whales. If
the object is cast up on the
shore, the barnacle may still
be attached by its long stalk.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
The adult goose barnacle eats
mainly tiny planktonic animals.
It sweeps the water with its cirri
to catch the plankton. Most of
the cirri are arranged as two
netlike scoops on either side of
a basket shape. They open and
close regularly, about 40 times
a minute. Food particles that
are trapped when the scoops
close are scraped off by the
remaining cirri and dragged
Left: Like other stationary animals,
the goose barnacle waits for food
to come near it.
Right: Goose barnacles may clus-
ter together to form a large, free-
to the barnacle's mouthparts.
The goose barnacle some-
times catches larger copepods,
sand hoppers, and isopods by
seizing their legs with an indi-
Right: The goose barnacle's stalk
may grow to an inch long. It is
cemented to a floating object.
Left: The goose
it is washed
its strong ad-
seals the shell
the body from
I DID YOU KNOW?
• In the Middle Ages, people
thought that the goose barna-
cle was an embryonic form of
the barnacle goose, and that is
how it got its name. The leg-
end survived until the Euro-
peans discovered the goose's
Arctic breeding grounds.
The goose barnacle is a herma-
phrodite, having both male and
female sex organs. Yet it usual-
ly mates with another, nearby
goose barnacle so that cross-
fertilization takes place.
The barnacle's eggs hatch in-
side its body, and the larvae are
released into the sea. The initial
larva--called a nauplius larva-
looks like a water flea. It has a
compound eye and three pairs
of limbs with which to propel
itself. After six months and sev-
Left: Goose barnacle colonies may
be found on shoreline debris such
as bits of plastic or wood.
• Details of the barnacle's de-
velopment were revealed in
1833, when a naturalist caught
immature forms and observed
them as they grew into adults.
• When its eggs hatch, one
goose barnacle may release
1 3,000 young.
eral instars (stages of develop-
ment), it becomes a cyprid larva.
At this point it looks like a tiny
mussel and has a pair of eyes,
six pairs of legs, and a soft shell.
In the nauplius stage, the bar-
nacle is mobile. By drifting on
tidal currents and swimming, it
can move to a new habitat. The
cyprid larva attaches itself to an
object by secreting a cement-
like substance. After some fur-
ther changes, it develops a hard
shell and cylindrical cirri. The
adult goose barnacle remains
anchored to the same object
for the rest of its life.
GROUP 6: PRIMITIVE ANIMALS
GENUS & SPECIES
The waved whelk may look harmless, but it is one of the main
predators of the seabed. This marine relative of the garden
snail attacks and feeds on other shelled sea creatures.
Length: Up to 3 in. near the shore.
Up to 6 in. in deep water.
Mating: Internal fertilization.
Eggs: More than 1,000 white cap-
sules containing hundreds of eggs
are attached to a rock in a large
Habit: Predator that feeds on sea-
bed. Usually stays underwater.
Diet: Bivalve mollusks, such as mus-
sels; echinoderms, and sea snails.
Also dead or injured fish.
Whelks of the family Buccinidae are
found from tropical seas to cool
North Atlantic waters. They come
in many colors and sizes. There are
several other families that contain
whelks, including the dog whelks
of the family Nassariidae.
• Range of the waved whelk.
Found in the North Atlantic in coastal waters from 6 to 500
feet deep. Range extends as far south as the Carolinas on the
American side and Spain on the European side.
The waved whelk is caught for food and fishing bait but is so
abundant that fishing does not seem to affect its population.
FEATURES OF THE WAVED WHELK
one has an eye
at the base.
Mouth: Can be
extended on a
for sucking in
water into the
in the water.
Shell: Often encrusted with tiny barnacles
and keel worms. The spiral lines around the
shell reveal the whelk's approximate age.
Foot: Broad and muscular.
Carries the whelk across
Hard disk on the
end of the foot
acts as a lid to
seal the whelk
i t s ~ 1
©MCMXCVI IMP BV/IMP INC. WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.SA us P 6001 12 078 PACKET 78
The waved whelk is found in coastal waters in the North
Atlantic. This whelk is a typical sea snail that prefers to be
covered by water. But sometimes it is found on the lower
part of a beach when the tide is out. It can also be seen in
fishing harbors, after it has been dredged from the seabed
in nets or caught in baskets baited with dead fish. The
waved whelk may be sold as food or used as fishing bait.
The waved whelk usually lives
in water 6 to 500 feet deep, of-
ten in areas of muddy gravel or
sand. It sometimes appears on
the lower shore but is not found
farther up because it dries out
and dies if exposed to the air
During the period of neap
DID YOU KNOW?
• The genus name Buccinum is
derived from the Latin word
for trumpet and refers to the
shape of the shell.
• In the past fishermen used
the empty egg capsules of the
waved whelk as "sea soap" to
clean their hands.
tide (when the difference be-
tween high and low tide is the
smal lest), the waved whelk may
move up the beach. In spring,
when the extreme tides come,
some whelks may be left high
and dry. Most, however, find
the sea again or remain below
the low tidemark.
• Hermit crabs use discarded
whelk shells as homes. For pro-
tection, a crab may place a sea
anemone, which has stinging
cells, on top of the whelk shell.
• Waved whelks in deep wa-
ters may grow to twice the size
of those near the beach.
After mating, the female waved
whelk lays over 1,000 egg cap-
sules-each containing more
than 100 eggs. The capsules are
embedded in a mass of albumin
(egg white) and are surrounded
by a spongy casing. Many of
the eggs never hatch because
their contents are absorbed by
others for nourishment.
Inside the egg, the body of
the larva is symmetrical at first.
Left: A small, hard lid on its foot
seals the waved whelk in when it
withdraws into its shell.
[" .'.t1 NATUREWATCH
It is rare to find a live waved
whelk on the seashore. Most
of the shells found on the
beach are empty. The whelk's
egg masses are often cast up
along the tide line, but they
are likely to be empty as well.
A deep tide pool may con-
But near the end of its develop-
ment, it undergoes a process
called torsion, in which most of
the body's upperpart twists
counterclockwise 180 degrees.
Torsion is common in most gas-
tropod species. No one really
knows why it happens, but one
possibility is that it helps the
whelk to carry its shell. When
the egg case breaks, a tiny, fully
formed whelk emerges.
Right: The female waved whelk lays
a huge cluster of egg capsules, which
she attaches to a rock.
tain a living whelk creeping
over pebbles and seaweed.
But if the shell moves sudden-
ly across the bottom of the
pool, it does not contain a
waved whelk. Instead, it is oc-
cupied by a hermit crab that
has claimed a discarded shell .
~ FOOD & HUNTING
The waved whelk eats other sea
snails, bivalve mollusks such as
mussels and oysters, and echi-
noderms such as starfish. It also
eats dead or wounded fish.
It finds its prey by detecting
chemicals in the water. Unlike
some whelks, it does not bore
through a mollusk's shell to
reach the flesh. Instead, it pries
The waved whelk's hard shell
varies from yellowish brown to
chalky gray. It is made up of sev-
en or eight swollen whorls, with
broad ribs crossed by spiral lines.
The number of spiral lines re-
veals the whelk's approximate
age. Barnacles and bits of sea-
weed often cover the shell.
Inside the shell, a fold of skin
known as the mantle encloses
the whelk's soft body. Glands in
the mantle secrete a substance
that hardens to form the shell.
The waved whelk employs its
broad, muscular foot to creep
Left : A tubular siphon protrudes
from the waved whelk's body and
the two halves apart, grips one
half firmly with its foot, and then
wedges the other up with the
lip of its own shell. It next inserts
its radula (a filelike ribbon) and
cuts the muscles that hold the
two halves of the shell togeth-
er. After it sucks out the flesh, it
leaves the empty shell behind
and searches for its next victim.
along the seabed. At the end of
the foot is a shell-like operculum,
a "trapdoor" that the animal
can shut when it retreats into its
shell. The waved whelk uses its
special columella muscle to pull
its head and foot into its shell.
On its head the waved whelk
has a pair of tentacles with eyes
at their base. It also has a long
proboscis that it can extend to
suck in food . Close to the head
there is a siphon, which the ani-
mal uses to draw in water.
In its mouth the waved whelk
has a radula, a long ribbon with
rows of horny teeth. It moves
the radula like a saw when at-
tacking shelled animals.
GROUP 6: PRIMITIVE ANIMALS
~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
GENUS & SPECIES
The giant clam is an enormous shellfish that can weigh a quarter
of a ton. This huge, colorful inhabitant of coral reefs feeds
by filtering microscopic plankton from the sea.
Length: Up to 5 ft.
Weight: Up to 570 lb .
Habit: Immobile, half-buried on
reefs or in sand.
Diet: Feeds by filtering plankton.
Obtains carbohydrates from algae
Lifespan: Well over 100 years.
Spawning: Synchronized when
conditions are right. Each giant
clam produces sperm and eggs
• Range of the giant clam.
DISTRIBUTION No. of eggs: Several million.
Larvae: Free-floating. Drift in
plankton before settling for life in
shallow waters on seabed.
Found in shallow, clear water on coral reefs and reef flats in the
Indian and Pacific oceans.
Tridacnid clams occur only in the
Indian and Pacific oceans. They are
closely related to the Venus clams
of North America and Europe.
Although the giant clam is not directly threatened by human
exploitation, any threat to a coral reef affects the clam as well
as the coral.
FEATURES OF THE GIANT CLAM
Valves: 2 cor-
ing the valves. It
body organs. Al-
gae that are in
the mantle edge
' ~ l ~ ~ t \ l ~ ' ~ L into sugars.
OPENING AND CLOSING
The clam's valves are usually set
slightly apart. When its valves are
open, the clam can feed by pass-
ing water into its siphons. It can
also eject sperm and eggs when
To defend itself, the clam simply
closes up by contracting a power-
ful adductor muscle attached to
the inside of both hinged valves.
The giant clam is a bivalve mollusk with a wavy,
ridged shell. It is basically an enormous clam that
leads a stationary life wedged in a coral reef in the
sea. The giant clam is similar in many ways to the
coral among which it lives. Like coral, it cultivates
algae within its body tissues so that it can benefit
from the food these tiny plants make from sunlight.
The giant clam can be found
on coral reefs and flats in the
Indian and Pacific oceans. Af-
ter the clam has settled in a
good site, it remains there for
life. It is held to the spot by
strong, silken fibers and its
The giant clam has adopted
a lifestyle similar to that of cor-
al. It feeds on floating organ-
isms and harbors microscopic
single-celled plants, or algae,
under its mantle's skin, beneath
a layer of transparent cells.
The algae convert sunlight
into food. During the daylight
hours, they need to be in con-
stant sunlight to work effec-
tively. As a result, the giant
clam is found only in shallow,
clear water-in the same habi-
tat as coral.
Right: The giant clam filters food
and also has energy-making algae
on the edge of its mantle.
FOOD & FEEDING
The giant clam requires a bal-
anced diet with vitamins and
proteins to build its body and
carbohydrates to give it energy.
Its energy needs are fulfilled by
algae that live in its mantle. The
algae use sunlight to convert
water and carbon dioxide into
sugars. They use much of this
food themselves, but some sug-
ar leaks into the clam's body
tissues and is absorbed. The
clam also consumes cells of al-
gae as they multiply in the sun.
Sugars produced by the algae
left: Measuring up to five feet in
length the giant clam is the larg-
est living bivalve.
Right: The siphon, or opening in
the clam's mantle, passes water in
and out of the clam.
I DID YOU KNOW?
• The giant clam has small
"eyes" along the edge of its
mantle that respond to light.
If a shadow passes over its
eyes, the clam slowly closes
up to protect itself from pos-
• Stories of divers getting
their feet trapped in giant
clams are probably untrue.
provide energy that drives the
clam's water-pumping system.
The clam pumps water through
its body, drawing it into one
siphon and ejecting it from the
other. Not only does the water
carry vital oxygen, but it also
contains tiny organisms such as
fish eggs. The clam filters and
digests this waterborne food,
extracting the proteins and vita-
mins that it needs.
Right: The giant clam's mantle
edge often protrudes when the
shell valves are open.
The clam closes its shell so
slowly that it is a very ineffi-
• Many giant clams provide
homes for small crabs called
pea crabs. A single pair of
crabs lives inside each clam.
They may defend their terri-
tory against small invading
sea creatures by eating them.
The giant clam has the same
structure as any other clam. Like
all bivalve mollusks, it has a shell
with two plates, or valves, that
are joined by a spring-loaded
hinge at the bottom. They gape
open naturally, but the clam can
pull them shut with its powerful
adductor muscle, sealing itself
From its position half-buried in
sand or in a coral crevice, a gi-
ant clam ejects its eggs into the
water. Some eggs encounter
the sperm of nearby clams, are
fertilized, and grow into adults.
To improve the chances of fer-
tilization, the giant clams in an
area all spawn at the same time.
They produce huge numbers of
eggs and sperm in a few hours.
Each clam alternates between
producing only eggs or only
The shell's interior is lined with
a thick quilt of skin called the
mantle. This protrudes from the
shell like fleshy lips. The linings
of both valves fuse together to
form a sheet that covers the in-
ternal organs. There are two
openings, or siphons, which
serve as the clam's communi-
cation channels with the water.
sperm. Correct water tempera-
ture may trigger spawning, and
chemical signals released by the
spawning clams may then cause
nearby clams to spawn.
Most of the eggs are eaten by
predators. Fertilized eggs devel-
op into veliger(free-swimming)
larvae. They drift with the cur-
rent, feeding on algae. In a few
days, the larvae settle on the
seabed. If water conditions are
right, they become adult clams.
6: PRIMITIVE ANIMALS
.. CLASS .. ORDER .. SUBORDER
Crustacea Isopoda Oniscoidea
Sowbugs are crustaceans, like lobsters and shrimps. But unlike
their relatives, these small creatures have adapted to life
on dry land and are never found in the water.
length: Uo-l in. The larger species
occur in the tropics .
Coloration: Slate gray, reddish,
or white. Some species have yel-
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Mating season: Summer in tem-
perate regions. Varies in tropical
and desert regions.
No. of eggs: 30-50.
Hatching time: 5 weeks.
Diet: Decaying plant and animal
matter; some fresh vegetation.
lifespan: 2-3 years.
There are about 4,000 other spe-
cies in the order Isopoda. These are
the nearest relatives of the 7 sow-
bug families. They include grib-
bles, sea pillbugs, sea roaches, and
many parasitic forms.
FEATURES OF SOWBUGS
Thorax: Consists of 7 segments.
Each segment supports a pair
of equal-size legs.
ing. Not water-
as a sowbug
• Range of sowbugs.
Sowbugs are found all over the world except in the Arctic and
Antarctic, where they cannot survive the cold.
Because they thrive in so many different habitats and climates,
sowbugs are not threatened by human settlement or endan-
gered in any other way.
Head: Has 2 antennae.
pair of mandibles (jaws)
and 2 pairs of maxillipeds
Pillbug: A kind of
sowbug that can
roll itself into a ball
to protect under-
parts from losing
Abdomen: Made up of 6 seg-
ments. The last segment has a
pair of feelerlike appendages.
Body: A pillbug's body is
more arched and compact
than the body of a sowbug.
© MCMXCII IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A. 0160200791 PACKET 79
Sowbugs have colonized all parts of the world, with the
exception of the Arctic and Antarctic, where they cannot
survive the freezing temperatures. Although most sowbugs
frequent damp places, some species flourish in dry areas,
and a few species even live in deserts. All sowbugs avoid
prolonged exposure to open air and sunlight however,
for under such conditions they dry out and die.
A typical sowbug has a head, a
thorax, and an abdomen. The
thorax has seven segments, and
each supports two short legs.
The abdomen has six segments.
A sowbug molts (sheds its out-
er covering) as it grows. Its skin
loosens, then splits. The rear
half is shed first. In three days,
when the new rear covering
has hardened, the front half is
shed. When the new front cov-
ering hardens three days later,
the animal eats its cast-off skin.
A sowbug lacks a waterproof
outer covering, so it cannot re-
tain moisture. Some sowbugs
can roll up to prevent moisture
loss. Sowbugs that can do this
are called pillbugs.
Most sowbugs stay in damp
places to avoid drying out. They
hide under stones and rotting
logs, as well as in damp grass,
moss, and even moist corners
of houses. Some species live in
forests, on grassland, and under
driftwood on sand dunes.
In North Africa and the Near
East, one desert species lives in
burrows dug by several sow-
bugs. The animals stay in the
burrows by day and emerge at
night to feed.
This social behavior is typical
of many sowbugs. Equipped
with poor vision, they secrete
a scent to attract one another.
The scent also repels predators
such as spiders and ants.
FOOD & FEEDING
To avoid the drying heat of the
day, sowbugs feed at night or
dawn. They are part of a small
group of animals known as "de-
composers" because they help
recycle organic waste matter
by eating decaying vegetation.
Sowbugs also eat growing
plants but cause less damage
than people think. In addition,
they feed on some flesh such as
left: Because it has many legs, a
sowbug can move easily over both
horizontal and vertical surfaces.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Sowbugs have a number of
names in different places. Lo-
cal names include chisel-hog,
wood louse, lugdor, palmer,
• A pillbug is often confused
with a pill millipede, which
also rolls into a ball. But the
latter has many more pairs of
legs than a pill bug and also a
the decaying bodies of other ti-
Sowbugs take in moisture in
different ways. Some species
absorb it from the outside of
the body through a system of
tubes. Other species have body
grooves that carry condensation
from the upper surface to the
gills. Still other sowbugs actual-
ly drink water.
Ri ght: A pillbug protects itself from
drying out by rolling its armored
body into a ball.
ance. Pill millipedes live pri-
marily in woodlands.
• At one time sowbugs were
prescribed as medicine for
various diseases of the liver
and digestive system. The
type of sowbug swallowed
by the patient was, of course,
[", j NATUREWATCH
There are 200 species of sow-
bug in North America. The
most common species are
around half an inch long.
They are easy to find under
rocks or decaying logs. If you
expose a few, they will scurry
around looking for another
moist, shady place to hide.
Porcellio scaber is a common
species that can be found hid-
ing under loose bark and in
sand dunes. In fairly dry habi-
tats, look for pillbugs. A very
small specimen might be a
youngster or a related species.
A male sowbug fertilizes a fe-
male through a pair of open-
ings at the base of each leg on
her fifth segment. The sperm is
stored until the female's next
molt, when it is released to the
oviducts to fertilize the eggs.
The female carries the eggs in
a brood pouch. The large yolk
in each egg nourishes the em-
bryo, which undergoes all the
larval stages before hatching.
The tiny sowbug develops its
last pair of legs after it molts for
the first time, a day after hatch-
ing. Growth is slow, continuing
even after sexual maturity.
left: After molting-and before its
new covering hardens-a sowbug
is vulnerable to attack.
PLUMOSE SEA ANEMONE
~ ........... G~ R O U P 6. PRIMITIVE ANIMALS
... GENUS &: SPECIES
~ Metridium senile
The plumose sea anemone appears to be harmless. But it uses
its spectacular tentacles to trap and kill animals, paralyzing
them with the venom of countless stinging cells.
Height: Up to 18 in.
Diameter: Up to 8 in. across ex-
Sexual: Eggs and sperm are re-
leased into water, where they then
combine and develop into free-
Asexual: New individuals may
"bud" off the parent or develop
from fragments of body tissue.
Habit: Attached to rocks in shallow
Diet: Planktonic plants and ani -
mals; also small sea creatures that
drift or swim into its paralyzing
Like all other anemones, it is re-
lated to jellyfish and corals. The
beadlet anemone, Actinia equina,
is a close relative.
Range of the plumose sea anemone.
The plumose sea anemone is widely distributed in shallow
coastal waters as well as on rocky shores throughout the
Marine pollution takes its toll on local populations. But the
plumose sea anemone is still common throughout its range.
THE STINGING CELLS OF THE
PLUMOSE SEA ANEMONE
"Trapdoor" : Nematocyst
of small exten-
sions in clusters
on the top of the
©MCMXCVI IMP BV/IMP INC. WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
with a hair
the entrance of
cell 's sac.
Shortened, jellylike blob when
anemone retracts its tentacles.
rep rod uction
of the cell.
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
are hundreds of
is a tiny poison
harpoon. Set on
the end of a thin
flexible tube, it
is stored inside
out in a tiny sac.
an animal brushes
the tentacles, the
and the barbed
US P 6001 12074 PACKET 74
The plumose sea anemone is found in shallow waters
throughout the Northern Hemisphere. This creature can
easily take advantage of the wealth of food that flows
past it in the ocean currents. Attached to a rock in
shallow coastql waters, the anemone simply waits until
plankton and small sea creatures drop into its trap.
The plumose sea anemone re-
sembles a flower more than an
animal. It is one of the most
spectacular sea anemones in
northern coastal waters. On top
of a long body column, feath-
ery plumes of stinging tentacles
surround a central mouth that
opens into a stomach cavity in
the column. At the base a pow-
erful disk like a suction cup an-
chors the anemone to a rock.
Instead of a brain, the plu-
mose sea anemone has a net-
work of nerve cells throughout
its body. When they sense the
touch of a potential predator,
they trigger a response from
muscle fibers attached to the
tentacles. Within seconds, the
anemone draws its tentacles in-
to its body, contracting itself in-
to a shurt, rubbery pillar. After
the danger is over, the anem-
one extends its tentacles again.
Right: The anemone's form varies
greatly, with clusters of tentacles
around the mouth.
Because its cells are not highly
specialized, the plumose sea
anemone can reproduce itself
asexually by making new indi-
viduals from "buds." Also, if the
anemone is cut in half, the cells
. in both parts can reorganize to
develop into two individuals.
The species does not broaden
its range much by asexual repro-
Left: The plumose anemone can
grow a replica of itself as a bud
sprouting from its disk.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The plumose sea anemone
is not completely stationary. It
is held to a rock by secretions
from its suctionlike disk. If it
settles on a poor feeding site,
Most plumose sea anemones
live well below the low-tide
level. But you may find one
during a very low spring tide
if you search among seaweed
on rocks or pier pilings. Out of
water it looks like a blob of jel-
duction, so it also reproduces
sexually. It ejects great quanti-
ties of eggs and sperm into the
water. Only a small proportion
of the sperm fertilizes the eggs.
The larvae that hatch from the
fertilized eggs look like tiny free-
swimming jellyfish. Those that
survive settle on the seabed and
develop into adults.
Right: The plumose sea anemone
defends itself by simply retracting
it can unstick itself and move.
• At up to 18 inches high, the
plumose anemone is one of
the largest anemones found
in northern coastal waters.
Iy, with its tentacles tucked in-
side to prevent drying out.
When submerged, the plu-
mose sea anemone unfurls its
tentacles. You might see this
spectacular sight in the deeper
rock pools at low tide. -----1
FOOD &: FEEDING
The plumose sea anemone con-
sumes plankton, including the
eggs and larvae of fish and in-
vertebrates. It also eats other
small sea creatures like shrimp.
Attached to a rock, the anem-
one spreads its tentacles and
waits for prey to drift by. The
tentacles are armed with nemo-
tocysts, stinging cells that are
like tiny poison harpoons. When
a victim brushes against the ten-
tacles, the harpoons shoot out
and inject venom into its body.
Left: The mass
of tiny tentacles
waving in the
objects into the
thing that is
Each stinging cell does little
damage by itself. However, as
the anemone's tentacles em-
brace the prey, the combined
venom of the cells paralyzes the
victim almost instantly. The ten-
tacles then guide the prey into
the anemone's central mouth,
which closes to let the digestive
juices work. After digesting the
prey's soft parts, the anemone
opens its mouth, ejects any re-
mains, and prepares to ensnare
GENUS &. SPECIES
The blue crab is one of the largest and most colorful American
crabs. This marine creature can swim very well, aided by
the paddle-shaped tips of its last pair of walking legs.
Body width: 5 - 9 ~ in. after reaching
Sexual maturity: 12-16 months.
Mating season: June to October.
Spawning season: May to October.
No. of eggs: 750,000-2,000,000.
Hatching time: 2-3 weeks.
Habit: Solitary. Lives in quiet inshore
waters and migrates into deeper wa-
ter for the winter.
Diet: Plant matter, clams, worms, and
dead marine animals.
Lifespan: 3 years.
The blue crab belongs to the family
Portunidae, which includes the swim-
ming crabs. The lady crab, Ova/ipes
ocellatus, is a close North American
relative of the blue crab.
FEATURES OF THE BLUE CRAB
• Range of the blue crab.
Found in estuaries and bays along the coast from Nova Scotia
south to Mar del Plata in Argentina, as well as in Bermuda.
The blue crab is an abundant animal in inshore waters through-
out its range, although it is heavily fished. Like all marine crea-
tures, it suffers from pollution in the ocean and coastal waters.
Adult: As its name im-
plies, the full-grown
crab is boldly marked
with blue. Both sexes
have thi s coloring.
Swimming legs: The two
back legs are paddle-shaped,
enabling the animal to swim
fai rly swi ftly.
'" MCMXCII IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILEIM
vision. Can al so
be ret racted.
Claws: Stout; used both for defense
and to capture food.
Zoea larva: Almost mi-
croscopic, it floats freely
in the water.
Megalops: Develops from
zoe a larva. It soon settles
on the bottom and turns
into a recognizable crab.
- - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - ----
PRINTED IN U.S.A 0160200981 PACKET 98
The blue crab is found in inshore waters along the Atlantic
coast from Canada to Argentina. It is the most important
commercial crab in North America, where the annual catch
is about 300 million pounds. A freshly caught crab must
be handled carefullYt because it is extremely agile and
has powerful pincers that can inflict a painful wound.
The blue crab spends the major-
ity of its time searching for food
in eelgrass beds in the shallow,
sunlit waters of bays, estuaries,
and lagoons. When this animal
is scavenging for food or hunt-
ing prey, it is helped by its oar-
like rear legs, which allow it to
move as fast as three feet a sec-
ond. This speed also enables it
to escape its predators, includ-
ing large fish as well as herons
and other water birds.
The blue crab is a skillful swim-
mer. It usually moves sideways
or backward, but it sometimes
hovers in one place in the water.
When the weather turns cool
in the fall, blue crabs migrate
from the shallows into deeper
water, where the temperature
remains more or less constant.
The females tend to migrate in-
to deeper water than the males.
In spring, both sexes return to
the shallow inshore waters.
Above: The favorite habitat of the
blue crab is an eelgrass bed in the
shallow water of a bay or estuary.
Right: In its threat display, the blue
crab spreads its formidable claws,
which can inflict a painful pinch.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
The blue crab is mainly a scav-
enger, feeding on any dead ma-
rine creature it finds. But it also
sometimes uses its sharp, pow-
erful claws to prey on worms,
clams, or other marine animals.
Because the blue crab can swim
rapidly and has keen eyesight, it
can catch a variety of creatures
that other crabs must pass up. It
is so fast that it can even capture
shrimp and minnows.
The blue crab often includes
plant matter in its diet. It feeds
on tender leaves of eelgrass as
well as soft seaweeds.
I - : , ~ NATUREWATCH
The blue crab rarely comes
to the surface of the bay or
estuary in which it lives. As
a result, you are unlikely to
find one unless you go out
in the water with a bait line
or fishing net.
Like all crabs, the blue crab
molts (sheds its shell) several
times before it reaches full
size. Its discarded shell usu-
ally washes ashore, where it
is often mistaken for a crab
that has died. The shell re-
tains its color for some time,
and it makes an interesting
souvenir of a beach visit.
Blue crabs can mate at any time
during the warm months, from
June to October. Mating occurs
when an adult female has just
molted and her shell is still soft,
so the male can penetrate her.
After mating, the female be-
gins her migration into deeper
water. She stores the sperm in
a special chamber in her body
until she returns to the inshore
waters in spring. Then she pro-
duces her eggs, fertilizing them
with the stored sperm. A single
female may produce up to two
The female carries all the eggs
DID YOU KNOW?
• The scientific name of the
blue crab is an apt description
of this creature. Callinectes is
from the Greek for "beautiful
swimmer," and sapidus is Lat-
in for "tasty."
• Several animals are adapted
for living on or in the body of
the blue crab. Three species
of barnacle hitchhike on the
shell of this crab. There is also
a type of worm that lives only
under her body until they hatch
in two or three weeks. Each be-
comes a free-swimming zoea
larva. After it has molted sever-
al times, the zoea larva becomes
a more crablike animal called a
mega lops because of its big eyes.
The mega lops settles into the
eelgrass. Gradually, after sever-
al more molts, it assumes the
shape of a small crab. By the
age of 12 to 16 months, the
young crab is sexually mature
and ready to mate.
Above: As it grows, the blue crab
sheds its shell. The new shell hard-
ens within a day or two.
among the blue crab's gills.
• Although the blue crab is
generally found in relatively
shallow coastal waters, it is
occasionally caught in water
almost 300 feet deep.
Maryland and Virginia.
• Chesapeake Bay is the cen-
ter of the blue crab industry.
Every year about 100 million
pounds of crab are caugh:J in
this large estuary that lies in
VIOLET SEA FAN
GROUP 6: PRIMITIVE ANIMALS
... GENUS·&: SPECIES
~ Muricea chamaeleon
The violet sea fan looks like a plant, but it is actually an animal.
This colony of individual polyps is attached to a branching,
twiggy support that is set firmly on the seabed.
Width: Up to 20 in.
Height: Up to 3 ft.
Sexual: Polyps release sperm to
fertilize eggs. These become mo-
bile and establish new colonies.
Asexual: New polyps grow buds
to build up a colony.
Habit: Fixed to rocks and firm sur-
faces on the seabed at depths of
Diet: Minute planktonic animals
strained from the water.
Lifespan: 30 years or more.
There are many species of sea fan,
including the white horny coral,
Eunicella verrucosa. They are close-
ly related to other corals as well as
to sea anemones.
Range of the violet sea fan.
The violet sea fan is found in the warm currents of the Gulf
Stream in the eastern North Atlantic.
Many Mediterranean and tropical sea fans are endangered by
collecting for commercial trade. For this reason the violet sea
fan's population is decreasing. In addition its decline has prob-
ably been accelerated by the effects of pollution.
FEATURES OF THE VIOLET SEA FAN
Polyp: Similar to a tiny sea anemone.
Each polyp is attached to the violet
sea fan's "twigs" and to the network
of tubes within the fan's structure.
Polyp can be extended and retracted.
Holdfast: A gripping base that holds
the fan firmly to a rock.
©MCMXCVI IMP BV/IMP INC. WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
Tentacles: 8 feathery
arms, visible when
the polyp is extended.
Armed with numerous
PRINTED IN U.S.A. US P 6001 12077 PACKET 77
Sea fans are intricate, fragile-looking corals that are
composed of many hundreds of tiny polyps. Using their
feathery, stinging tentacles, these polyps feed by straining
microscopic creatures from the ocean currents. Because the
polyps are linked to one another by a network of tubes, the
entire sea fan colony shares the benefits of a single catch.
A sea fan is a type of coral. It is
not one animal but a colony of
individual polyps linked togeth-
er by a mutual support system.
Approximately one-tenth of
an inch high, each polyp has
eight feathery tentacles to trap
food and to absorb oxygen. A
polyp does not depend only on
its own efforts to survive, how-
ever, because it is part of a net-
work of tubes that acts as a food
distribution system. Nutrients
absorbed by one polyp are thus
shared by the others, ensuring
the health of the entire colony.
In many sea corals, polyps oc-
cupy cavities in a rocklike skele-
ton. But violet sea fans are very
different. Instead of living inside
a strong supporting structure,
the polyps and their network of
tubes are attached to the out-
side of a branching, twiggy sup-
port made of a horny material
called gorgonin. The "twigs" all
branch out in the same plane,
creating the flat, fanlike effect
that gives the violet sea fan its
name. The "trunk" is rooted to
a rock with a gripping disk that
is called a holdfast.
The polyps of the violet sea fan
produce both eggs and sperm.
But the colonies cross-fertilize
each other by releasing sperm
into the water and letting it drift
away in the current. Each violet
sea fan draws in the sperm of
neighboring sea fans.
The sperm cells pass into the
body cavity of a polyp and fer-
tilize the eggs inside. Each egg
develops into a microscopic in-
dependent larva that eventual-
ly emerges from the mouth of
the polyp. It propels itself in the
water by beating a fringe of mo-
bile hairs called cilia.
Left: The white horny coral, Euni-
cella verrucosa, is closely related
to the violet sea fan.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Tropical relatives of the violet
sea fan may grow over 1 0 feet
wide and have a lifespan of
more than 100 years.
• The stinging polyps of a sea
fan make it an unpopular prey
animal. However, sea fans are
often preyed upon by Tritonia
Carried by the current, the
larva may drift a long distance
before resting on the seabed,
where it changes into an adult
polyp. It then starts to build a
colony by "budding" -grow-
ing new polyps that are con-
nected by a horny skeleton and
a network of tubes. In 30 years,
the sea fan may grow three
feet high, with hundreds of
genetically identical polyps.
Every season, these polyps
produce eggs and sperm. As
a result, it is possible for cross-
fertilization with other violet
sea fans to take place.
Right: When breeding, the violet
sea fan extends its polyps to release
clouds of sperm cells.
odhneri, a small pink sea slug
that is camouflaged to match
the polyps. This aquatic mol-
lusk seems to be immune to
a sea fan's venom. In fact, it
even seems to use the sting-
ing cells, transferring them to
its own skin to repel attackers.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
The individual polyps of the vio-
let sea fan feed like sea anem-
ones, preying on tiny floating
animals that drift in the sea.
Each polyp has many stinging
cells called nematocysts. These
tiny, barbed poison darts shoot
out when an animal brushes
against the polyp's tentacles. If
enough darts penetrate the vic-
tim, it is paralyzed by the ven-
om and unable to resist when
moved by the tentacles into the
Left: Feeding like a mass of small,
linked sea anemones, the violet sea
fan seizes prey from a wide area.
polyp's central mouth. After the
prey reaches the stomach cavity
and is digested, the nutrients
pass into the tube network to
nourish the rest of the colony.
The massed tentacles of the
colony form a net in the water
to trap food over a broad area.
But the net only works if there is
a continuous water current flow-
ing through it. The violet sea fan
is most abundant where there
are steady currents in deeper
water. It is too fragile to survive
the battering it would receive in
GREAT BLACK SLUG
The great black slug is a harmless animal that spends the day
hidden in dense vegetation. It emerges at night and after
rain to feed primarily on decaying plant matter.
Length: 6 in. when full y grown .
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Mating: Wet summer nights.
Eggs: White to brown; less than
X in. long. Laid in clusters of up
Hatching time: 4-6 weeks. May
overwinter if laid late in the season.
Habit: Usually active by night but
emerges after rain in day. Burrows
underground in cold or dry weather.
Diet: Rotting and fresh plants.
Some animal matter such as feces
and rotting carcasses.
Original range of the great black slug.
Lifespan: Up to 3 years.
The great black slug is common throughout Europe. It was
accidentally introduced to North America and has started to
RELATED SPECIES CONSERVATION
The common garden slug is a close
relative. Other European slugs in-
clude the great gray slug and the
Despite the variety of pesticides used by farmers and gardeners,
the great black slug is flourishing throughout its range.
FEATURES OF THE GREAT BLACK SLUG
raised with a grainy
most of the slug's
Tentacles: Used for locating food. Each
longer tentacle has an eye on the end,
which probably distinguishes only
light and dark.
and lubricated with
movements pass up
the sole to propel
the slug forward.
Air is taken in
hole and passes
into the simple
lung cavity with-
in the mantle.
( ~ , MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A
DEFENSE AND COLOR
Coloration: Differs greatly among
individuals. In addition to black,
Arion atermay be brick red , dark
brown, or even pale orange.
0160200581 PACKET 58
The great black slug is related to the snail, but it does not
have a shell. Without a shell, the slug is more exposed to
the sun and to the cold. But, unlike the snail, it does not
need to find calcium to build a shell. As a result the slug
can live in a greater variety of places-anywhere that
provides it with enough food and moisture to survive.
At dusk the great black slug
glides out of its daytime refuge
to begin its nightly search for
food. This soft-bodied creature
may become dehydrated if it is
exposed to the sun. It appears
in daylight only if the ground
is thoroughly soaked by rain.
Most of the great black slug's
organs are contained under its
mantle-the raised, saddlelike
structure behind its head. Its
lung is a simple cavity lined
with blood vessels that takes
in air through the conspicuous
hole on the front right side of
Because it has no shell, the
great black slug is vulnerable
Right: If you watch a slug for a
while, you may see its breathing
hole open and close.
to cold and drought. It bur-
rows deep into the soil during
cold winters and hot, dry sum-
mers. But, without a shell, the
slug can thrive in sandy places
and on acid moors where the
soil does not contain the calci-
um (lime) that snails need to
build their shells.
Right: The great black slug feeds
on mushrooms and any rotting
plant matter it can find.
The great black slug is a her-
maphrodite-it possesses both
male and female organs. But
it still must mate for its eggs
to be properly fertilized.
In the mating ritual, a pair
of slugs circle one another for
some time before entwining
their bodies to transfer sperm,
which are contained in small
packages called spermato-
Left: The great black slug is not
always black and often has a
black-flecked orange "skirt."
phares. The eggs are fertilized
inside the slug'S body and laid
soon after mating. They are
buried in loose soil, where
they remain for several weeks,
or even throughout the win-
ter, safe from rain and frost.
In the spring they hatch, pro-
ducing infant great black slugs
that are perfect miniatures of
Right: The slug lays its tiny white
eggs in batches. The eggs' hard
shells keep them from drying out.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The great black slug is often tive at cushioning sharp sur-
host to tiny mites that crawl faces that the slug can crawl
1 to- ,. J NATUREWATCH
all over its body and feed on over the edge of a razor blade
its mucus. without being harmed.
• The great black slug avoids • The slug's silvery trail can be
being out in the rain and waits its downfall. A snake may fol-
for it to stop before emerging. low the trail and eat the slug it
L The slug's mucus is so effec- _ finds at the e_ nd_ o_f _ it. ___ ----I
Great black slugs are most
often seen after a heavy rain
when the ground is soaking
wet. If a person's shadow falls
over the slug, it may instinc-
tively shy away. If you touch a
tentacle, the slug will retract
FOOD &: FEEDING
Despite what many gardeners
think, the great black slug is not
the main cause of damage to
vegetables. This slug prefers to
eat rotting plant and animal
matter that has been softened
by the processes of decay. But
if no dead matter is available, it
feeds on tender young leaves,
seedlings, and soft fruit.
The great black slug finds its
food by smell and taste, rather
The bottom of the great black
slug is a long, muscular sole, lu-
bricated by mucus secreted by
a gland under its tail. The slug
appears to glide forward with
no effort, but in fact it moves in
a series of waves that travel for-
ward along the sole.
it and may turn aside. It uses
its tentacles to feel for obsta-
cles, and it may assume your
finger is an obstacle. Prod it a
little more firmly, and it may
contract its whole body into
a tight, hard lump.
than by sight. It uses its sensitive
tentacles to test if something is
edible. When it finds a suitable
morsel, it uses its radula--a
filelike "tongue" studded with
sharp teeth for grating tough
plant tissue. The radula grows
continuously, and each new
section is fully equipped with
teeth. As the teeth move for-
ward, they wear down and
finally fall off at the tip.
The slug keeps lifting part of its
sole and putting it down a little
farther forward. These move-
ments ripple up the sole in a
continuous process. The sticky
mucus helps the slug cling to
smooth surfaces and protects it
when it moves over rough areas.
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