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Aliens among us

2010 December 12

As a fan of both science and science fiction, I’m amazed by how often real, live creatures here on earth end up seeming more fantastical (or scarier) than anything invented by fiction.

At least once a week, news about some mind-blowing animal (or occasionally plant) discovery pops up in my RSS feed. Lately, I’ve been fascinated by posts about super-conducting hornets, body-snatching fungi, and photosynthesizing sea slugs.

Today’s example of science fact’s turning out to be stranger than science fiction is the moray eel, with it’s strange pharyngeal jaws that give it a decided resemblance to a well-known film monster. I remember reading an article about this when the scientists who discovered the eel’s anatomical idiosyncracy. It wasn’t until I saw this delightful, hand-drawn animation, though, that I got a better idea just why a moray would need to evolve this feature.

The video was created by Phil Lai, a student in Professor Casey Dunn‘s invertebrate zoology class at Brown University. As a final project for the class, students have the option to create a post for Dunn’s CreatureCast blog. (Here’s the link to the full post version.)

And, just in case you had any doubt, I absolutely want to take that class now!

(h/t: Intellectual Pornography)

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