Beach bits: What’s the go with barnacles?

Crabs, pawns, sea urchins and sea cucumbers are marine invertebrates. They’re critters without backbones that live in marine environments.

Each marine invertebrate species has evolved to withstand the elements. They wear their bones or exoskeleton on the outside of their body and they have hooks or muscular feet to hang onto rocks when the sea gets rough. These hardy little fellas can endure whatever life throws at them, tough it out when exposed and even get raunchy when under the sea.

One of the very few facts I remember off the top of my head from my marine invertebrate’s class is about barnacles. They might be inconspicuous rocky shore critters, but their reproductive processes are pretty adaptive to say the least.

You know what they say about men with big feet… well, barnacles actually have the largest penis to body ratio for any species in the animal kingdom. So, I’ll leave you to debate what men’s shoe size means.

To add some science substance, barnacles are actually hermaphroditic, meaning that they have both male and female reproductive parts. This allows them to fertilise each other and not necessarily their neighbour (they uncoil their long tubular penis to find a receptive mate). Over 1000 fertilised eggs can be released at any one time and once hatched, the larvae use chemical and touch receptors to find a suitable rock to call home, which they then lay a slab on by releasing cement receptors.

Now, there’s some Beach Bits for trivia night!

Be first to comment