sea anemone


Genus Lybia

(Boxer Crabs)

also known as pom-pom crabs, Boxer Crabs are a genus of small crabs in the family Xanthidae (mud crabs). the name pom-pom/or boxer comes from the mutualism that they hold with sea anemones, in which they hold the cnidarian in their claws and use them for defense, and in turn the sea anemone gets more food by moving around.





Eerie, beautiful, captivating images of sea urchins mating and being born (that little triangle guy is a baby sea urchin).

These are a glimpse of how life begins in the deep ocean – and there’s a lot of life down there. The oceans provide about 190 times as much living space as every other space on Earth – soil, air and fresh water – put together. A vast array of amazing creatures live in the depths of this watery world. Squid, jellyfish, and plankton are just a few of our favorites (all shown as tiny babies in that last gif).

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Sea Anemones, Actiniaria, Alcyonacea, Cnidaria, Frilled Anemone, Gorgonian, Sea Whips or Sea Fans and a Gewone Rivierkreeft (Astacus/fluviaitis); 19th century steel-plate engravings.

Which Came First, the Head or the Brain?

The sea anemone, a cnidarian, has no brain. It does have a nervous system, and its body has a clear axis, with a mouth on one side and a basal disk on the other. However, there is no organized collection of neurons comparable to the kind of brain found in bilaterians, animals that have both a bilateral symmetry and a top and bottom. (Most animals except sponges, cnidarians, and a few other phyla are bilaterians.) So an interesting evolutionary question is, which came first, the head or the brain? Do animals such as sea anemones, which lack a brain, have something akin to a head?

In this issue of PLOS Biology, Chiara Sinigaglia and colleagues report that at least some developmental pathways seen in cnidarians share a common lineage with head and brain development in bilaterians. It might seem intuitive to expect to find genes involved in brain development around the mouth of the anemone, and previous work has suggested that the oral region in cnidarians corresponds to the head region of bilaterians. However, there has been debate over whether the oral or aboral pole of cnidarians is analogous to the anterior pole of bilaterians. At the start of its life cycle a sea anemone exists as a free swimming planula, which then attaches to a surface and becomes a sea anemone. That free-swimming phase contains an apical tuft, a sensory structure at the front of the swimming animal’s body. The apical tuft is the part that attaches and becomes the aboral pole (the part distal from the mouth) of the adult anemone.

To test whether genetic expression in the aboral pole of cnidarians does in fact resemble the head patterning seen in bilaterians, the researchers analyzed gene expression in Nematostella vectensis, a sea anemone found in estuaries and bays. They focused on the six3 and FoxQ2 transcription factors, as these genes are known to regulate development of the anterior-posterior axis in bilaterian species. (six3 knockout mice, for example, fail to develop a forebrain, and in humans, six3 is known to regulate the development of forebrain and eyes.)

The N. vectensis genome contains one gene from the six3/6 group and four foxQ2 genes. Sinigaglia and colleagues found that Nvsix3/6 and one of the foxQ2 genes, NvFoxQ2a, were expressed predominantly on the aboral pole of the developing cnidarian but, after gastrulation, were excluded from a small spot in that region (NvSix3/6 was also expressed in a small number of other cells of the planula that resembled neurons). Because of this, the authors call NvSix3/6 and NvFoQ2a “ring genes”, and genes that are then expressed in that spot “spot genes.” The spot then develops into the apical tuft.

Through knockdown and rescue experiments, the researchers demonstrate that NvSix3/6 is required for the development of the aboral region; without it, the expression of spot genes is reduced or eliminated and the apical tuft of the planula doesn’t form. This suggests that development of the region distal from the cnidarian mouth appears to parallel the development of the bilaterian head.

This research demonstrates that at least a subset of the genes that cause head and brain formation in bilaterians are also differentially expressed in the aboral region of the sea urchin. The expression patterns are not identical to those in all bilaterians; however, the similarities suggest that the patterns of gene expression arose in an ancestor common to bilaterians and cnidarians, and that the process was then modified in bilaterians to produce a brain. So to answer the evolutionary question posed above, it seems that the developmental module that produces a head came first.


Pom-pom Anemone (Liponema brevicornis)

Also known as the tentacle shedding anemone, the pom-pom anemone is a species of sea anemone found in deep water in the north east Pacific. Like other anemones the pom-pom anemone is a carnivore and will attempt to eat any small animals unfortunate enough to swim into its tentacles. Pom-pom anemones are also fed on by sea spiders who steal tentacles from it. Although it usually lives a sessile lifestyle, the pom-pom anemone does not attach its self to a substrate and it can roll itself up like a rug and drift with the current like a tumbleweed, stopping when it reaches a solid object. 



Image Source(s)

Lybia edmondsoni: THE FABULOUS POM-POM CRAB 
Posted by Matthew Cobb at Why Evolution Is True 

Lybia is a genus of small crabs in the family Xanthidae.  Their common names include boxer crabs, boxing crabs and pom-pom crabs.

They are notable for their mutualism with sea anemones, which they hold in their claws for defense. In return, the anemones get carried around which may enable them to capture more food particles with their tentacles. [Wikipedia]

Animalia  >  Arthropoda  >  Crustacea  >  Malacostraca  >  Decapoda  >
Brachyura  >  Xanthidae  >  Lybia

And this looks like Lybia edmondsoni Takeda & Miyake, 1970


Gorgonian Wrapper (Nemanthus annamensis)

Also known as the Zebra-striped Gorgonian Wrapper as an reference to its coloration, the Gorgonain Wrapper is a species of colonial sea anemone found throughout the Indo-Pacific. This cnidarian is commonly found in strings of individual polyps all of which with individual tentacles.



Image source(s)

Armor Upgrade

Some species of hermit crab fortify their defenses by attaching stinging sea anemones onto their shells.

This upgrade is enough to repel even crafty predators such as octopuses, whose arms recoil when coming into contact with the anemone’s stinging tentacles.

Large hermits can stack multiple anemones onto their shells, increasing their defenses further. Crabs with more anemones are less likely to be attacked by predators. 

The anemone supposedly benefits from this arrangement too—the hermit crab provides it with motility, food (thanks to the crab’s messy eating), and protection against fire worms (which prey upon the anemone).


image source: Warren Photographic

reference: Atkinson. 2012.