Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Food & Starfish in Paris-Some of my Favorite Things!

My trip to the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris has been amazing!

This week-Some of my favorite things...

I'lle flottante-my favorite French desert. Basically, its egg whites made into a merangue and then placed on top of egg yellows mixed up with sugar.
Its rich beyond imagining-and the only reason I can handle it-is because I only have it when I visit Paris! Believe it or not, I've had larger and more sophisticated versions of this creamy wonder.. mmmmm....

*Ahem*But as far as echinoderms go..let's go look at some STARFISH (asteroids, sea stars, whatever...)
and other critters..

Here's a pic of me holding one of the world's LARGEST starfish-

1. Thromidia gigas from Madagascar!
You may remember this beast as one of the species listed in my "what are the largest starfish" post (click here to see!).

2. Sphaeriodiscus bourgeti! A funny looking beast that looks more like a cookie or a rubix cube type puzzle than an animal... This species lives in deep-sea habitats off the west coast of Africa in the tropical Atlantic. Sometimes, I honestly wonder how something with this shape can be alive at all.. (you will hear me re-iterate this question again below...)
Here is a jar with a few more smaller specimens..Colors and etc. are gone but that's their shape when alive. Ya' gotta wonder how they live shaped like modern art that you would find in an artsy French garden somewhere...
3. Luidia! A beautiful multi-armed species of the sand-star Luidia! This specimen is from Madagascar-but generally, these starfish live on sandy bottoms where they prey on mollusks and other smaller, slower sand-dwelling critters.

Interestingly-the patterns are part of the animal's body structure and don't fade in preservation. They are big animals and easily reach 1.5 feet in diamter..
We've seen something closely related to this species in some spectacular video...

4 Asterodiscides tessellatus aka the "Firebrick" or "ToeNail" star!
Each armtip has the signature smooth armored plates.
This video shows a similar species

5. Anseropoda spp. Among the most bizarre is the FLATTEST of the sea stars. Most of these live in the deep-sea. I've shown you pictures of them alive from Hawaii..
The genus of these animals hails form "Anseros" and "podia" which translates from the Latin to "goose-foot" which is what the body of these things resemble...

But its hard to convey from submersible camera shots, just HOW THIN and FLAT these starfish are...
For example, here's a dried specimen of another Pacific species.. the top.
the bottom...
and now, here's the SIDE...
Here's yet another species, but this one with multiple arms! (about 7). The top.
The bottom surface.. (note the mouth at center and the tube foot grooves radiating out from it) The arms and body are somewhat damaged..but hopefully you can make out the general shape..
Here's what the animal looks like if you pick it up. It so thin that light actually shines THROUGH it.
Seriously. How is something like that even ALIVE??? Amazing. and wonderful...

Annnnd..let's not forget our friends-the closely related ophiuroids (brittle stars)...(this one is Amphiophiura liberata)
And where would be if we didn't end with some kind of deep-sea sea cucumber? Not QUITE sea pigs..but close.... Here's some Oneirophanta mutabilis!
For some reason..I am always around places that have giant deep-sea crabs.

How many people can say that keeps happening to them??

More next week!

1 comment:

MissTerious said...

lets hope theres no chocolate starfish!