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The Artful Amoeba

Glass Anchors Strengthen Sponges and Enlighten Engineers


It must be the Year of the Sponge here at The Artful Amoeba, because I can’t seem to write enough posts about sponges and their amazing micro-scale architecture. Below is the Sponge of the Day, and it’s one I’ve discussed here before:  Euplectella aspergillum, also called Venus’s flower basket. “Euplectella aspergillum” by NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Tiny Cell Grows Giant Death Spike and Lives to Grow Another


Let’s say you’re a small cell engaged in heavy manufacturing. Like most animal cells, you are coated only in a thin membrane made a double layer of fluid fat-like molecules. The thing you make is a giant, pointy glass rod twice your size. Would you expect to survive this process? Well, if you’re a cell [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Lowly Sponges Conceal Astounding Architecture


To look at a rock sponge, which usually has all the visual appeal of a potato, you would never guess that inside lies the Notre Dame of animal skeletons. But so it is. Here are a few: The rock sponges (named for their notable lack of squish) build their skeletons out of tiny bits of [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Jagged-toothed mystery monster; needs identifying

It’s Friday and I’m about to go away on fieldwork for a while, so let’s have some fun (even though substantial media interest in the new Isle of Wight azhdarchoid pterosaur Vectidraco continues unabated). Why not knock yourself out and have a go at identifying this bizarre skeletal tetrapod, surely one of the weirdest things [...]

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