Tuesday, April 5, 2016

An unfufilled Wedding Gift and a remarkable reproductive strategy

We owe my Paternal Cousine, Jennifer, and her husband Emmanuel a gift that has been a long time in the coming: a mantel piece glass sponge, the Venus Flower Basket, Euplectella sp.  I promised them in a letter, those many years ago, that I would send them one of these when I found one.  I hope that this post will not win their forgiveness, but be a sign of my sincerity.  Nor do I bear this as a burden of guilt, but that is just because I do not work that way.

Skeleton of the Venus Flower Basket, Euplectella sp.
In my letter, I told Jenny and Emmanuel of the symbolism that is famously honored in Japan, of a pair of shrimp that live within this exquisitely intricate and beautiful glass prison.   For this sponge is, I am led to believe, sometimes given as a wedding gift in Japan. 

Here is a description of Euplectella sp. by Sir Charles Wyville-Thomson,  chief scientist of the Challenger Expedition, 1873-76. 

This other vase-shaped animal, half glass & half sponge is not unknown in England, but has never before been obtained elsewhere, than off the Phillipine Islands. From their great beauty and rarity they were, on their first appearance, sold in England for £50 apiece, as chimney ornaments.

 The intricate structure of a glass sponge, made of fused Siliceous spicules.  I found a web page for amateur microscopists about Searching for Spicules.

Spongicola venustus  is a shrimp with a symbiotic relationship with Euplectella spp. 

The Love Story

In the following web page is explained that the shrimp's reproductive strategy is rational withing the sparse ecosystem of the deep sea: http://schmidtocean.org/cruise-log-post/a-deep-sea-love-story/ 

The Shrimp: Spongicola venustus 

 Saito and Komai had this to say of the group of shrimps to which this species belongs:
The symbiont spongicolid shrimps are generally characterized by a reduced armature of the body and appendages and by a rather depressed body form, representing a typical pattern of adaptation to a life in a confined space within the host animal (Bruce 1976). Furthermore, some of them show a trend toward reduction of the gills and exopods on maxillipeds

The drawing as well as the description are from
Saito, T. and Komai, T., 2008. A review of species of the genera Spongicola de Haan, 1844 and Paraspongicola de Saint Laurent & Cleva, 1981 (Crustacea, Decapoda, Stenopodidea, Spongicolidae). ZOOSYSTEMA-PARIS-, 30(1), p.87.

A remarkable series of images of the shrimp and the host sponge is found, in Korean, at the following site: http://sima-niger.net/kairodoketsu-133 .

The following image is taken from this site.

And here's the lid:




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