A Bleeding rock?

By Anupum Pant

Pyura-chilensis-550x416This might look like an alien rock that bleeds when it is cut. In reality, it is a Ascidiacea class of non-moving marine invertebrate which attaches itself to a hard surface made of tunicin. Also, in the rocky coats of Peru and Chile where it is found, they blend with surrounding rocks. But these are collected for commercial reasons.You may wonder, for what? These are eaten, either raw or cooked, preferably with rice. And they say it tastes really good.

Pyura chilensis is the name of this weird marine creature. Unlike what is apparent from first looks, their blood is actually a clear liquid. The more interesting thing about their blood is that it has been found to contain relatively high concentrations of a somewhat rare element called vanadium (an element used to make really strong steels). The Vanadium content is about 10 million times higher than the water that surrounds them. Not much is known about how they are able to concentrate vanadium to such high concentrations.

It is born a male and turns into a female as it matures. As it is a non-mobile creature, this makes sense because it can make both sperm and eggs in a single creature and make them meet in a fertile cloud. The young ones that emerge seem like tadpoles. They go and sit on nearby rocks and grow.

The rock like outer shell has two openings. One for inhaling and the other for exhaling. The act of inhaling involves taking in water, which may also contain forms of algae. The algae gets filtered inside and stays there. While the remaining water is let out from the other opening. Algae is what powers this organism.

via [Scientific American]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *