START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
2,475,296 people care about Environment & Wildlife

A Living Rock That Reproduces Via Sex With Itself (Video)

A Living Rock That Reproduces Via Sex With Itself (Video)

Pyura chilensis, a sea creature living in the rocky coasts of Chile and Peru, could be described as a living rock. Here is the animal in its natural habitat, in the process of feeding by inhaling water through its tunicin (“tunics” lined with an epidermis and muscle band, inside of which is the main part of P. chilensis) and filtering out microorganisms.

As Becky Crew explains on Scientific American’s Running Ponies blog, P. chilensis belongs to the “Ascidiacea class of non-moving, sac-like marine invertebrate filter feeders that are otherwise known as sea squirts.” It has a digestic tract that is basically its mouth; has clear blood; accumulates high levels of a very rare element, vanadium (a mineral also found in crude oil and tar sands, notes Grist); attaches itself to hard surfaces via its tunicin.

P. chilensis live in “densely packed aggregations of thousands or small handfuls of just a few” or all on their own. They are hermaphrodites: A 2005 study in Marine Ecology Progress Series by biologists Patricio H. Manríquez of the Universidad Austral de Chile and Juan Carlos Castilla of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile found that P. chilensis is born male  and becomes cosexual — acquiring both male and female gonads — in adolescence. The animals reproduce by releasing both sperm and eggs into the water;  if any of these successfully mingle, they become tadpole-like creatures that attach themselves to a rock and then mature.

Manríquez and Castilla found that, while P. chilensis‘s preference is to cross-fertilize with another creature, they reproduce by “selfing” — self-fertilizing — just as successfully.

P. chilensis are fished commercially in Chile and local residents eat them raw or make them into a salad or stew. Grist’s Jess Zimmerman says that non-locals describe their taste as “bitter,” “soapy” and with a sort of odd “iodine flavor.”

Traditional mythology and folktales are full of examples of trees and other “inanimate” forms of life that turn out to be sentient and quite alive with an animus (the Latin word for “spirit” and “soul”). An animal like Pyura chilensis suggests that such stories contain some kernal of truth and are perhaps not quite so fantastic as we might tend to think.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Octopus Crawls Out of Water and Begins Walking on Land (Video)

Chilean Glacier Ice Heist Lands Thieves in Hot Water

Deaf Boy in Shanty Town Rescues Burned Homeless Dog

 

Read more: , , , ,

Image from a screenshot of a video uploaded by ricker2345 via YouTube

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

62 comments

+ add your own
3:05PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Very interesting. Thank you.

4:30AM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

11:44PM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

Another case of where is the fine line between sentient and non-sentient?

5:44PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

10:40AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

I got suckered in by the headline, but it`s not a rock is it ? It`s a sea creature !

8:20AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Wow and i thought women were weird.

6:51AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

fascinating

5:58AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Thank you for the article...

5:35AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Thank you for the article.

4:32AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Both interesting and fascinating!

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

There is a reason we say dogs are part of our family. They are just in a different form than humans.…

Fight climate change for the cost of a cup of coffee - stop 1000 tons of CO2 emissions by saving acres…

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.