This week I thought you might find this skeleton to be an interesting identification challenge:
Any idea what this might be?
It will probably be a bit on the easy side for some of you (Wouter, I’m looking at you!) so if you know what it is then try to be a bit cryptic with you answer in the comments section below. Have fun!
Last week I gave you what looks like a pickled cauliflower floret to identify:
As most of you worked out, this is a soft coral, although Tony Irwin was more detailed with his cryptic suggestion placing it in the Nephtheidae, and mpbx3003’s clue was spot on.
The name on the jar is Eunephthya florida (Rathke, 1806), but as with the last mystery object, there’s been a change in name. Eunephthya is now only applied to a genus that happens to be found in South Africa. This specimen is now considered to be in the genus Duva and the species name florida is more of a reflection of the fact it has a flushed pink colour in life than any reference to the American state.
Most soft corals they tend to live in warm shallow waters of the Atlantic, so Florida wouldn’t be a bad bet for where this might come from, but it actually happens to be one of the more unusual cold and deep water species. This particular specimen is from off the West coast of Ireland at a depth of between 738-900m (410-500 fathoms in old money).
Unlike the shallow water corals, these ones don’t get enough light to photosynthesise using symbiotic dinoflagellates, so they rely on capturing zooplankton from the dark but rich cold waters of the Atlantic.
This week I have another mystery object for you from the Dead Zoo:
Any idea what this might be? Clue: it’s NOT a cauliflower.
I thought that for the 360th mystery object it would be appropriate to ask you to identify a specimen with a radial arrangement:
It’s about 6cm across if that helps. Any idea what this might be?
Last week I gave you this fishy mystery to have a go at solving:
I find fish a bit tricky, simply because there are so many different species out there – 33,100 described so far and rising. That’s more than all other vertebrates combined, so it’s not surprising that they can be a challenge.
However, this cartoonish looking little fish has some quite distinctive features that help narrow down the identification. There’s the duck-face with a couple of little barbels between its eyes and the clumping of the fins to the tail end. It also has a nice colour, but as I regularly say, that’s seldom a very reliable guide.
Generally, fish shaped like this don’t swim fast, they don’t lie flat on the sea bed and they don’t wriggle through weeds. This is the shape of a clinging fish – the kind that hold fast to a surface and let the world wash over them.
There are a good fish that do this, but I did say that this one is from Ireland, which helps narrow it down even more – enough for Chris to identify it correctly. This is a Cornish Sucker Lepadogaster purpurea (Bonnaterre, 1788). These weird little fish are pretty awesome. They cling to rocks along the shore with a suction cup made from their fused pelvic fins and they can change colour to blend into the rocks they attach to. Partly this will be for camouflage to avoid predators, but it will also be to help them ambush the smaller fish and crustaceans that they feed on.
One small issue for me is that the name on the label for this specimen is Lepadogaster lepadogaster (Bonnaterre, 1788). The taxonomy of this genus was reassessed in 2002 and the northern population of Lepadogaster (including those from the UK and Ireland) was found to be distinct from the more southerly distributed population. So once again, I need to update a label because advances in taxonomy have messed up our 100+ year old information. That’s the trouble with science – it keeps finding out new stuff.
Recently I’ve had quite a few fish identifications to deal with, so I thought I’d share the joy with this specimen from the Dead Zoo:
If you want some information to help, it’s about 65mm long and if it’s from Irish waters.
Let me know your thoughts!
Another Friday, another mystery object. This week I’m going back to my favourite subject – skulls. This particular specimen has been brought in to the Dead Zoo for identification by customs and although I’ve narrowed it down, I’m still not 100% sure of the species just yet:
It’s a fairly straightforward genus for anybody who knows their ungulates, so cryptic clues are appreciated. However, the species is harder to work out, so bonus points for detail. Have fun!