Weird animal #1 – the giant isopod

This is the first in a series of articles about the weird and wonderful of the animal kingdom. You may or may not know about the animals; some will be common, other rare, but all with be noteworthy for possessing an unusual trait or two. The first is about a deep-sea beastie, one that is familiar is shape but not at all in size: the giant isopod.

The giant isopod is a close relative of the common household woodlouse, only massive: the biggest yet found weighed 17 kg and was 76 cm long. They live a solitary life deep at the bottom of the sea, where they scavenge for dead fish and whales in the muddy gloom.

The live at depths of around 200 to 2000 metres under the sea. Little sunlight penetrates to that depth, so to compensate they have large reflective eyes. In low-light conditions, there is no significant benefit to camouflage, and so the giant isopod have little colouration, revealing the natural muted pink colour of its chitinous exoskeleton.

Food is scarce in the deep ocean, and so the giant isopod must tolerate long periods of starvation; though when food does rain down from above, it can be a sudden feast, and the giant isopod is known to gorge itself until it literally cannot move. It is also known to attack the catches of trawler boats. Just like their terrestrial cousins, they curl up into a ball to protect themselves when threatened.

Lots more photos can be seen at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/yahooeditorspicks/galleries/72157623618461809/

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Biology

2 responses to “Weird animal #1 – the giant isopod

  1. I will have nightmares after seeing a picture of that bastard. The bottom of the ocean is there for a reason. To keep us unaware that such monsters exist. One more reason to stay on dry land.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s