Navigation Links
VIMS scientists help solve mystery of 'alien pod'
Date:11/1/2010

Tracy Collier, an employee at Home Technologies in Newport News, Virginia, was walking her employer's Westie around the Center's manmade lake on Thursday when she saw a large, mysterious blob floating in the water.

Co-worker Charlie Schmuck says "The lake is behind our office. Tracy was walking by the lake, saw the object, and asked everyone else to come out and take a look."

Tracy thought it was "a huge dead snake."

Charlie thought it "looked like some weird underwater fungus, like the ones that explode when you poke them."

Perhaps because it was just a few days before Halloween, co-worker Dale Leonart's initial guess was that "it has to be an alien pod." After further consideration, he thought it might be some type of sponge.

Hoping to solve the mystery, Charlie took some pictures of the object and e-mailed them along with a description to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point.

The scientists at VIMS were equally intrigued. The e-mail read "The object is about 4 feet in diameter. It has moved about 6 feet down the shoreline in the last 24 hours. It 'jiggles' when the waves in the lake hit it when we prod it, it seems to be spongy feeling The texture appears to be that of a rock with algae spots on itit is brown and yellow, with a pattern of some type."

A brief flurry of internal e-mails followed. The marine tunicate Eudistoma hepaticum? Unlikely, as the lake contains fresh water. A Halloween prank in which someone moved a marine organism to the lake? Perhaps. The final consensus was that the organism is Pectinatella magnificathe "magnificient bryozoan."

"Moss Animals"

That identification is itself somewhat surprising, as the vast majority of bryozoansthousands of specieslive in salt water. Marine bryozoans are common but inconspicuous filter feeders that grow in thin, encrusting colonies atop rocks, kelp blades, shellfish, and other hard objects. When the individual animals extend their tentatcles to feed, the colony takes on a fuzzy appearance, hence the bryozoans' common name of "moss animal."

Although individual bryozoans are built on a simple plana U-shaped gut inside a bag-like body with no lungs or gills, and no circulatory or excretory systemthey are true survivors, with a fossil record that dates back some 500 million years.

Freshwater bryozoans are far less diverse than their marine cousins, with only about 50 species worldwide, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in sizelike the 4-foot blob found floating in Newport News. The City Center blob is actually much larger than most reports for the species, which put a large colony at only 1-2 feet across.

Colonies of Pectinatella magnifica feature a surface layer of adjoining "rosettes"each with 12-18 animals or "zooids"around a central jelly-like mass that is 99% water. The colonies can be free floating or attached to a piling or other submerged object. One study even showed that young colonies of P. magnifica can actually move on their own by coordinated pulsing of the individual animals.

VIMS professor Carl Hershner notes that bryozoans consume algae, so the "alien pod" is "actually a good thing to have around, despite its looks." "It's not a sign of bad water quality," he adds, "and it doesn't hurt fish. It can clog pipes, though, and it will be smelly if it's removed from the water."


'/>"/>

Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Jefferson scientists deliver toxic genes to effectively kill pancreatic cancer cells
2. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
3. Argonne scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
4. MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles
5. Scientists identify gene that may contribute to improved rice yield
6. Scientists discover why a mothers high-fat diet contributes to obesity in her children
7. MU scientists see how HIV matures into an infection
8. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
9. Thinking it through: Scientists call for policy to guide biofuels industry toward sustainability
10. Scientists identify a molecule that coordinates the movement of cells
11. Scientists Find new migratory patterns for Mediterranean and Western Atlantic bluefin tuna
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
VIMS scientists help solve mystery of 'alien pod'
(Date:5/23/2017)... May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation ... officially launched in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 ... and the USA . The technology was developed and ... by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro ... Release, please click: ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ALBANY, New York , April 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... highly competitive, as its vendor landscape is marked by ... in the market is however held by five major ... and Safran. Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% ... majority of the leading companies in the global military ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a ... authentication solutions, today announced that it has been ... Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation ... "Innovation has been a driving force ... program will allow us to innovate and develop ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Personal eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any ... So which eye do you rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s ... Wash with its unique dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... 11, 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient ... Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch this week. ... among health care professionals to enhance the patient care experience ... and other health care professionals to help women who have ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A new study published in ... and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer cycles. The multi-center matched ... , After comparing the results from the fresh and frozen transfer cohorts, the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Inc., a development-stage cancer-focused pharmaceutical company advancing targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, ... uses of targeted HPLN (Hybrid Polymerized Liposomal Nanoparticle), a technology developed in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: