News about the capture of more and more large specimens of the lice has been recently encouraged by the scientific community. And when in the reports often the information began to slip that the sizes of these creatures exceed sometimes half a meter, such giant scabs began to attract the attention of ordinary people: is it a joke, because a huge moccasine, whose body length reaches 75 cm, is a real sensation.
However, an important nuance is that in reality giant woodlice is not at all habitual for all the lice, living under driftwood and fallen leaves in close proximity to the earth. These large creatures are deep sea dwellers: like the land lice, they belong to a group of decapod crustaceans and have an appearance that is very similar to that of the actual lobsters.
The specificity of "real" (small) woodworms lies precisely in their land, while the huge scabbards caught at great depths by trawlers evolved from sea crayfish, and none of their ancestors saw sushi.
On a note
However, certain types of "real" lice trees also successfully inhabit reservoirs. However, this happens only because these creatures, although they live in water, but have a land ancestor - they are secondary water.
Generally speaking, it is more correct to call huge deep sea lice the giant isopods. However, further we will call them simply gigantic mokritsami, since this name is more common for most readers.
So, giant lice are a whole genus of crustaceans, in which today there are 9 species. The biggest mokritsa in the world of them is the giant isopod Bathynomus giganteus, the largest caught specimen of which was 76 cm long and weighed 1.7 kg. Basically, the deep-water nets that are found in the deep-water nets have a length of 15 to 40 cm.
The discoverer of giant isopods was the Frenchman Alphonse Edwards, who caught several young males in the Gulf of Mexico in 1979. For a long time it was believed that the giant scabbards live only in the Atlantic Ocean and its seas, but recent studies off the coast of Australia have shown that these crustaceans also inhabit the Pacific and Indian oceans, differing little in appearance and way of life.
It is interesting
The huge lice were the first deep-sea creatures that zoologists could find. For science, this was a real revolution: before that it was believed that the great depths of the ocean were lifeless. The isopods gave impetus to the study of the deep-water sections of the continental shelf and depressions in the oceans, and also extended the view of scientists about the possibilities of adapting living beings to extreme conditions of life.
What does the world's largest mokritsa look like?
Externally, a large moccas strongly resembles its ordinary land relatives, sometimes called "watermelons" in the people.
Nevertheless, the structure of its giant body has its own distinctive features:
- The marked difference between isopods from small land relatives is the presence of a wide and long "tail" of several blades, providing the ability to swim for short distances. There are no such tail on the land lobsters, but in ordinary crayfish it is present.
- The paws of giant woodlocks are armed with powerful claws, which, however, are not used for attack or defense. They are needed more for the convenience of moving over a clay or silty bottom.
- It is interesting that giant lice have big eyes and good eyesight. It is not entirely clear why it is at the depths on which they live, but the fact remains that they see the giant isopods well.
In addition, a large mocryric (as well as small land) in the event of danger can collapse into a ball, after which all soft and accessible to the predators areas of her abdomen are protected by powerful exoskeleton plates.
Lifestyle and nutrition
The largest in the world, woodlocks live at a depth of 170 to 2000 meters. The greatest depth of their capture is 2140 meters.
These creatures prefer to settle on silty or clay soils, and avoid rocks and rock outcrops.
Giant scabbards are lonely in their way of life, and only occasionally meet with each other for mating. They do not show any apparent hostility to the individuals of their species, but they do not hold together either.
Gigantic isopod can rightly be called scavengers deep-sea seabed: their main food is the remains of dead worms, fish, shellfish, crayfish, algae and almost any other organics. If the mokritsa in search of food finds a colony of immobile underwater animals - sponges, radiolarians, holothurians - she, without embarrassment, eats them. Some experts believe that at great depths the isopods can catch even small, inactive fish.
Considering the extreme low population density of the deep seabed areas and the small amount of food available here, it becomes clear why Isopods are accustomed to prolonged hunger strikes. So, for example, in the experiment, these creatures placed in aquariums, without harm to themselves, "fasted" for 8 weeks.
It is interesting
If the mocryca finds, for example, a colony of holothurians, it can overeat so that it practically loses the ability to move.
Features of the giant isopod reproduction
Giant scabies breed in spring and winter. This is due to the fact that in the summer months the amount of food at great depths is significantly reduced.
After pairing in the isopod female, a special brood pouch appears on the abdomen, into which eggs come from the oviduct, become fixed there and then develop. Young lobsters leave the mother bag almost completely formed and differ from adults only in size.
Young individuals can live at the same depth as adults.
It is interesting
There is no concern about the hatchery hatching from the eggs. The larvae just stay near their mother for a while, and if they are born in a place with an abundance of food, they may linger on it for several days. But from the very early age the isopods are left to themselves and lead a completely independent way of life.
Why are they so big?
Scientists still can not unequivocally assert what is involved in the large dimensions of deep-sea lice. One hypothesis asserts that, because of the scarcity of fodder reserves at great depth, animals here reach late puberty much later, and until this time they manage to grow to large sizes.
According to another theory, the larger the size of the body of sea creatures, the easier it is to transfer low ambient temperature and high pressure. This is very similar to the tendency of land animals to grow larger when moving to the north - it is about the poles that meet the largest predators, pinnipeds and some representatives of bird orders.
Other large lice
So to speak, there are no "analogues" to the size of the giant isopods among land terrestrial true lobsters. The largest species of landlocks live in the tropics and only in exceptional cases grow to dimensions of 4-5 cm in length, their usual dimensions are 1-2 cm.
This is partly attributed to the fact that, like all crustaceans, the lice are in great need of moisture, and their large size would lead to an increased risk of death from dehydration even in sufficiently wet places (the larger the size of the body, the greater the area of evaporation of water from it) . In addition, all the lice are a favorite food for a variety of animals, and if the small representatives of this suborder can at least hide under the stones, the large ones will simply be defenseless against the enemies.
On a note
An unprepared person can easily confuse the lobster and centipedes from the glomeris family. While the body of the lobster is divided into 11 segments, the posterior ones are small in size, the glomerises have 12-13 segments, of which the posterior segment, which looks like a scute, is especially large.
Here are some photos of centipedes from the glomeris family (not to be confused with mochrica!):
It is interesting that the largest of the true lice are again marine species. Ligia oceanica, for example, grows to 3 cm in length, and lives in the shallow waters of the Mediterranean and the north of the Atlantic. Unlike giant isopods, Ligia oceanica originated from terrestrial ancestors, and therefore can rightfully be called a real lice.
It should be noted that no woodlice - even the largest in the world - does not represent commercial value. Extreme lovers all try to say that the land mackerel tastes like concentrated urine. Against this background, giant isopods can be considered a delicacy: their meat tastes like lobster meat.
However, given the extremely rare and accidental hits in the fishing net, no one seriously takes the prey and prepares the giant isopods.