Altruism is a Good Thing

Yesterday I learned two of the COOLEST things related to the whelks we’re working with.

1) They are apparently highly venomous, and their venom contains neurotoxins that have the capacity to kill human beings (my reaction upon hearing this: slowly and carefully put the whelk down…) BUT, the reason I am here typing this instead of living out a slow painful death-by-sea snail scenario, is that they only use their venom when hunting and never in self-defense. Silly snails. Plus, even if they did get the idea to inject their neurotoxins into a person, the little drill that they use would take like 2 days to burrow through the skin and into the bloodstream. Hah! Still super cool though 🙂

2) These whelks eat mussels, and the mussels have evolved a pretty neat defense mechanism against them. Mussels live in huuuge beds so when a whelk finds a mussel it could pretty much be set for a lifetime of meals, just moving from one mussel to the next. BUT, these little mussels do an awesome job of being selfless little martyrs – when a whelk is in the process of eating one, the mussel’s last act is to secure a bunch of byssal attachments (the strong threads that attach them to the rocks) to the whelk’s shell – so when the whelk has devoured its meal and moves on to the next, it’s completely stuck to the first mussel it ate! And the rest of the mussels in the bed are saved, yayyy!

Aka altruism rocks. 🙂

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This is a whelk! Eating a barnacle filled with protein gel in one of our bioassays

Just wanted to share some fun facts. I’m off to make dinner with my mom and maybe do some painting (I’ve been loving that have time these days to dabble in art every once in a while), and then spend a little with my “beau” (as my mother likes to call him) haha. Hope you guys are having a great week! Hump Day, almost the weekend!!

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A painting/drawing/thing I did the other day, with old dictionary pages and pen & ink
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One comment on “Altruism is a Good Thing

  1. You and I are so alike girlfriend..it’s kind of awesome! Love your drawing- it inspires me to do a little drawing next week too..whip out my pen and ink and get on it!

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