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Overview

Brief Summary

The sea mouse is an amazing worm. It looks more like a hairy sea cucumber than a worm. Its back is covered with short velvety hair, rimmed with stiff thorns. It has long hair on either side, which has fantastic iridescent colors. Sea mice live half burrowed in sandy bottoms.
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Comprehensive Description

Description

 An oval bodied worm of around 10-20 cm long with a width of up to 6 cm. This polychaete has a distinctive covering of chaeta and bristles giving it a mat-like, 'felt' appearance. Some chaetae are iridescent giving the flanks a blue, green, yellow and bronze shimmer. The ventral underside is yellow/brown in colour and forms a ridged, flattened sole. The head is hidden but two horn-like palps protrude in front.Aphrodita aculeata is named after the Greek goddess of love. All members of the family Aphroditidae are characterized by scales (the elytra) on their back (dorsal surface) which, in Aphrodita aculeata, are covered by a conspicuous layer of long, fine chaetae forming a mat of 'felt'. Detailed descriptions of this species are given by Fordham (1925), Chamber & Muir (1997) and Barnich & Fiege (2000). Aphrodita aculeata is distinguished from Aphrodita alta and Aphrodita perarmata by the presence of iridescent lateral chaetae in Aphrodita aculeata (Barnich & Fiege, 2000).

 Individuals may be found washed up on shores after storms or stranded during low tides.

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©  The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Source: Marine Life Information Network

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Ecology

Habitat

Known from seamounts and knolls
  • Stocks, K. 2009. Seamounts Online: an online information system for seamount biology. Version 2009-1. World Wide Web electronic publication.
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© WoRMS for SMEBD

Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Depth range based on 392 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 278 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 1780
  Temperature range (°C): 4.745 - 11.721
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 19.317
  Salinity (PPS): 31.635 - 35.711
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.410 - 6.746
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.262 - 1.265
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 16.196

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 1780

Temperature range (°C): 4.745 - 11.721

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 19.317

Salinity (PPS): 31.635 - 35.711

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.410 - 6.746

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.262 - 1.265

Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 16.196
 
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 Found in the sublittoral to depths of over 1000 m in muddy sand.
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Wikipedia

Sea mouse

The sea mouse, Aphrodita aculeata, is a marine polychaete worm found in the North Atlantic, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. The sea mouse normally lies buried head-first in the sand. It has been found at depths of over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft).[2]

Etymology[edit]

The name of the genus is taken from Aphrodite, the Ancient Greek goddess of love. This is because, when viewed ventrally, the animal resembles a human female's genitalia. The English name may either have a similar meaning, or may derive from the supposed resemblance to a bedraggled mouse when washed up on shore.[3] The specific name aculeata is the Latin for spiny.

Description[edit]

The body of the sea mouse is covered in a dense mat of setae (hairlike structures).[4] Adults generally fall within a size range of 7.5 to 15 centimetres (3.0 to 5.9 in), but some grow to 30 centimetres (12 in). They have been described as scavengers,[4] but are known to be active predators on other polychaete worms, both active and sedentary species, including Pectinaria and Lumbriconereis, feeding by night; prey is swallowed whole, head first, and long prey like the king ragworm Nereis virens take a long time to ingest.[5]

Structural coloration[edit]

The spines, or setae,[4] on the scaled back of the sea mouse are one of its unique features. Normally, these have a deep red sheen, warning off predators, but when the light shines on them perpendicularly, they flush green and blue, a "remarkable example of photonic engineering by a living organism". This structural coloration is a defense mechanism, giving a warning signal to potential predators. The effect is produced by many hexagonal cylinders within the spines, which "perform much more efficiently than man-made optical fibres".[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ WoRMS: Aphrodita aculeata Linnaeus, 1758
  2. ^ a b "Sea mouse promises bright future". BBC News (BBC). January 3, 2001. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ Warren, Rebecca; van Zyl, Miezan; O'Rourke, Ruth; Tokeley, Amber; Heilman, Christine, eds. (2006). "Ocean Life". Ocean: The World's Last Wilderness Revealed (first American ed.). New York City: DK Publishing. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-7566-2205-3. 
  4. ^ a b c "sea mouse". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ Tyler, Lizzie. "BIOTIC Species Information for Aphrodita aculeata". MARLIN. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
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