Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tunicate Week: Sea Tulips.

Back to tunicates. Tunicates are sessile chordates that make everything else go "WTF?" with their sheer bizarre lifestyles. They start as tadpole-like larvae, find a place to settle down, then, umm, reabsorb their primitive spinal chords and brains. They also use cellulose to build the advertised "tunic." In fact, if they didn't eat things and have larvae, we'd be darn sure tunicates were plants.

Apparently linked to Calvinism, somehow?

...weird plants that prove that Hell is probably underwater. Yep.

Those strange, stalky things are sea tulips. Like all tunicates, sea tulips are effectively spineless vertebrates, siphoning in plankton through one hole and pushing water out through the other.  If you wish to tiptoe through the sea tulips, head to the waters around Australia and New Zealand. Sea tulips are actually among the friendlier things there, so please watch out for the other toxic fauna instead.

Sea tulips are the largest individual tunicates out there. They can get up to a meter (roughly a yard for us Americans) long. It's worth noting, however, that some free-swimming tunicates can form longer chains. For something without a true spinal cord, a meter is still pretty impressive.

Clearly the easiest underwater photograph ever. Source.

Sea tulips are symbiotic with another strange, sessile animal: the sea sponge. Many sponges, including the symbiotes present on these tunicates, have predator deterrents - bad taste, poison, and so on. Remember that both sponges and sea tulips lack teeth, so chemical defense is the best bet for both of them. These sponges also provide a lovely array of colors for your viewing pleasure.

Indeed, that seems to be the main purpose of these things: They look really neat. They also lend some credence to the ancient idea that everything on land has a counterpart somewhere in the ocean. If nothing else, sea tulips make for a neat, living bit of undersea scenery that should really be used more often. Even the fields of the sea have strange, filter-feeding flowers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bio-Art: Fur Is Alive.

"Fur is murder!" is the rallying cry of PETA and animal-lovers everywhere. Indeed, the fur industry is one of the most controversial parts of the fashion industry. Most people who buy fur are not swayed by animal rights activists at all, but in general, there's a weird disconnect when it comes to humans using animals for meat or hide.

Well, Cecilia Valentine intends to put an end to that mindset. Her "Fur Is Alive" series proposes that fashion involving animals can be humane. In contrast to skinning an animal alive for fur, Fur Is Alive uses live animals and plants without actually harming them. Yes, this is still considered high fashion.

Cecilia Valentine designed Fur Is Alive with one idea in mind: the reconnection that things like fur and meat were once living, breathing creatures. This blog has posted numerous times about how disconnected Americans are from their food - particularly meat products. We're the same way with fashion fur. By and large, the people who buy fur are oblivious to what's really going on.

Here are a few shockers for you:

"Garment or accessory labels cannot always be relied upon to accurately identify the type of animal fur used in an item. Born Free USA advises erring on the side of caution and compassion by not buying items that you cannot verify are fur-free." 

"With nearly $1.3 billion in retail sales, the fur industry makes a substantial contribution to the U.S. economy. The fur industry in the U.S. provides full-time employment for over 32,000 workers and seasonal or part-time employment for an additional 155,000+ workers. Over 12,500 workers in fields such as marketing, banking and insurance also owe their livelihood in part to the fur industry."

 "As any pet owner knows, the condition of an animal's coat is one of the clearest indications of the care it is receiving. A fur farmer's livelihood depends upon assuring that his animals receive the best possible feeding, sanitary housing and care. Killing methods used on fur farms are similar to those commonly used in humane society shelters."

..."synthetics are generally made from petroleum products which are non-renewable resources and not biodegradable. From an environmental perspective, as long as trapping is well regulated, it is far preferable to use natural furs. Fur is renewable, long lasting, biodegradable, and it is warmer than any synthetic product." 

"During the 2009-2010 season, more than 67,000 seal pups were killed for their fur, genitalia and Omega 3 oils. The fur is used to make clothing, boots and garment trim; genitals are widely used as an aphrodisiac in traditional Chinese medicine; and the oils are used as a supplement for human consumption. The majority of the seals are skinned alive and are between the ages of 12 days and 12 months old. Others are left to suffer after being clubbed until a hunter returns to skin them. "

Notice that I am including both sides of the argument in these facts. Fur trading is one of the oldest trades in existence, and we should not expect it to die anytime soon. Beaver pelts were a fairly popular commodity when the New World was still being colonized. Human beings would not be alive if we hadn't learned to use the hides of animals as clothing. Synthetic fabrics have not been around since the dawn of time. Like it or not, we owe the fur industry and all of the animals who lost their lives to make sure the human species lived to have iPhones.

Another, more personal reason for watching both sides of this argument is my own experience with reptile legislation. For big bills banning, say, pythons, reptile owners can and will use the fashion industry to prove their point. They are against snakeskin farming during the other 364 days in the year. It's an interesting bit of hypocrisy, highlighting sides of skinning that PETA-pushers rarely consider. Snakes don't even have to be skinned to be in the fashion industry, so the case is particularly interesting for that reason as well. Plus, reptiles already make great living jewelry.

Back on topic! Cecilia Valentine's series consists of animals and plants on or in attractive-looking lattices. I particularly like the rodent in a necklace, in part because it actually has fur. These designs were made on a 3-D printer, allowing for testing of templates. The hamster was compensated for his time, by the way.

Unfortunately, the project looks to still be in the concept stage. The bird, for example, was photoshop'd in. None of this stuff is on the market, but I hope it's a hit when it gets released. This is a truly eye-opening idea. No matter what side of the argument you're on, when was the last time you saw a hamster cage necklace?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

They Actually Eat That + Creature Feature: Living Rocks.

Apologies for the lack of entries. There are two reasons for it: one, vacation in Minnesota and summer in general made a mess of my schedule; two,  I've had a hard time getting motivated. No more of that! This is probably the weirdest creature I've ever seen. Behold...


...the not-so-giant rock!

Yes, that rock is alive. It's called Pyura chilensis - "piure" for short in Spanish. It's part of the extremely weird group of creatures called tunicates/sea squirts- primitive vertebrates that are free-swimming when young, then become stationary blobs as adults. In this case, the blob looks like a giant rock and lives off the coast of Chile and Peru. As with all other mature tunicates, it is a filter feeder, feeding on any microorganisms that find their way into its rocky, yet surprisingly squishy insides before squirting that water back out.

Yeah, maybe it's time for a refresher on what a tunicate is. Tunicates, sea squirts, and sea salps are, collectively, the weirdest chordates in existence. They start life as free-swimming, tadpole-like creatures with brains, spines, and other very vertebrate traits. When they mature, however, they change entirely, eating their primitive spinal chord and becoming little more than jellyfish or sponges. In this case, the piura becomes a living rock as an adult. Can it have the "best camouflage ever" award? It pretty much ate its brain for it.

Like all tunicates, the living rock is a sequential hermaphrodite. It's born male, then becomes female as it gets older.When it's on the edge of becoming female, it releases both sperm and eggs into a messy cloud in the water. Yes, the living rock can effectively mate with itself if the need arises. Consider your mind blown.

You may have noticed that this is also a "They Actually Eat That" entry. Yes, the living rock is actually edible, and quite popular at that. Peoples in coastal Central and South America are in fact quite fond of eating this tunicate. It has also taken on some popularity in Sweden and Japan. I'm personally more surprised about Sweden than Japan in this instance. It's described as being "bitter and soapy," but supposedly goes great on rice or as fried tunicate meat. Whose idea it was to break apart a rock for food in the first place

There are, however, some concerns about eating piura. For whatever reason, piura meat contains an exceedingly high amount of vanadium- look it up on the periodic chart if you've never even heard of that metal (it probably was not on your chemistry exam). The concentration of vanadium in a single rocky tunicate is ten million times that of the surrounding seawater. Vanadium has been suspected of causing liver damage in high amounts. This has not stopped people from going along the coast and picking up living rocks underwater.

This entry was so weird and strange that I may just go ahead and do a tunicate theme week...hm.. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I Actually Ate That: Alligator.

There is actually a reason for the delay in posts, this week: Starting Thursday, I've been in Minnesota with my brother's family. That's 400+ miles away from my usual post in a place with terrible internet. I have not been able to post on Twitter from my phone because of one or more factors. Also, in summary, I do not like PC's. Stupid ads that get around my popup blockers...

The good news is that we came during the opening weekend of Minnesota's Renaissance Fair. Among the fair food? Alligator. I have no idea what gators have to do with the European Renaissance - they're an American crocodilian - but could not resist trying gator for the sake of trying gator.

And y'know what? I really like it. I normally don't eat land animals, but gator got me. Maybe I was just that hungry, or maybe there was some special sauce or spices, but whatever they did to the thing, they did it right. If you see gator on a stick around, by all means give it a try. It will not be what you're expecting.

What I was expecting: "It tastes like chicken." It's been a long time since I had chicken, but I do still remember how it tastes. I certainly remember how it smells. Gator tastes nothing like that, or at least not like the chicken that I remember. Some people think it tastes like veal, others like pork, and pretty much everything except beef and lamb. I'm also tempted to compare it to rabbit simply because of how lean the stuff is.

What I got: A meat that I had never tasted before. I'm firmly in the camp that alligator only tastes like alligator, because after having too much chicken soup as a child, I'd know if it tasted like chicken. It does not. I will grant that it tastes more like chicken than like, umm, beef or lamb. Predatory chicken soaked in the blood of innocents? Maybe. Not many meat is soaked in the blood of innocents. Fish aside, humans rarely eat predators - with good reason.

Now, I'm willing to bet money that the gator I had was farmed. Gator farms are a thing.  Gatorskin has been popular for a long time, and gator meat is a natural  follow-up.

 So, yes, I'm very glad I broke my land animal abstinence for gator. It's not something UI'll have often, but it was definitely worth trying. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"They Actually Eat That:" Donut Peaches.

If you can, go to a farmer's market sometime. They usually have stuff that is not only interesting, but edible. You won't find these weird things in a grocery store, so keep your eyes peeled and your tongue curious. Never know what you'll find.

Yeah, I demanded to know what these were as soon as I laid eyes on them in Daley Plaza.. They are donut peaches, also called "Saturn peaches." They looked like peaches, but flatter and rounder. They also seem to be the next big thing for people who like peaches. Hey, I like peaches, so I got a basket.

Donut peaches have been around in China for centuries (1100 BCE), but they were only introduced to the U.S. in 1869. They became popular in the 1990's, faded out, and now, ten years later, the seeds of this popularity are finally bearing fruit.They are harvested late spring until the end of summer, so if you didn't get them already, get 'em now.

I tried one of these for myself. They certainly aren't bad, and the round pit is cute. Although some have recommended them as a travel snack, be warned that they are on the messy side of things. Apricots are smaller and cleaner, but if you simply must have a peach in your pocket, go nuts. They also have something called a "honey gene" that makes peaches sweeter.

 Be warned , however, that they taste more like almonds than most peaches, and probably have more of whatever it is that triggers almond allergies. Overall, they're an enjoyable little treat. Check for them at your local farmer's market. If you happen to live in California, several restaurants have them as well. This is one fruit that will surely get more popular with time. Try it before everybody else.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Creature Feature: Lake Titicaca Frog.

Some things in life are just funny.  For example, Lake Titicaca? That just sounds dirty. We know it's a Quecha word, but it sounds sexy, dirty, or both depending on what other languages you happen to speak. It doesn't help that some pretty darn weird creatures live there, too.

Source: Weirdimals.

This is a Lake Titicaca water frog (Telmatobeus culeus). It is entirely aquatic, spending all of its life in a relatively isolated lake. It lives only in Lake Titicaca and looks just as silly as one would expect of something living in such a hilariously-named lake. Its scientific name translates to "aquatic scrotum." Apt, scientists.

The Titicaca frog has a reason for looking like a nutsack. Lake Titicaca is 4,000 feet above the ground, making oxygen a bit hard to come by. The folded skin is effectively one giant gill for the frog. That doesn't mean we land-dwellers cannot make fun of it. At least it has a cute face. Seriously, take away the folded skin and this frog doesn't look half bad. 

Why are you laughing at me? You can't even stay underwater for an hour!

The Lake Titicaca water frog is also a pretty big frog. The famous diver Jacques Cousteau once went diving in Lake Titicaca, finding thousands of fairly large, wrinkly frogs. They used to get up to 50cm long - that's roughly 20 inches, or "almost as long as two footlong sandwiches." It's not even the largest aquatic frog, but that's still impressive. 

Also, we eat this guy. Surprise, surprise, people eat frogs, but this particular frog is sometimes juiced into a Peruvian aphrodisiac. The frog is skinned alive, then put in a blender with some honey and roots. I realize it looks like a scrotum, but...fine, that's more logical rationale than some aphrodisiacs. You win this round, Peru, but it's still not cool to hunt frogs just to put junk in your trunk.

Aphrodisiacs aside, the Lake Titicaca frog faces a number of other environmental threats. Trout were introduced to Lake Titicaca's ecosystem, upsetting the who ecosystem therein, but specifically eating this frog's tadpoles. Tribal people occasionally catch the frogs and put them in jars in hopes that the heavens with take pity on the scrotum frog and allow it to return to the water by making the jar overflow. If the gods somehow bring this frog back from being critically endangered, thank the Denver Zoo and whatever otherworldly entities made the Nazca lines.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bio-Art: Meat Dresses.

It's odd that there hasn't been too much about Lady Gaga for a while. She used to be the biggest thing since sliced bread, but you don't even see her on magazine covers anymore. Still, she was known for wearing crazy stuff like this:

This blog entry is not necessarily about her, however. Meat dresses are not a shiny new thing that Gaga introduced. In fact, the (likely) original meat dress caused just as much controversy and had a much clearer message behind it.

This is Jana Sterbak's Vanitas: Flesh Dress For An Albino Anorectic. In 1991, this meat dress was put on display so as to show the contrast between our obsession with youthful physical appearances and eventual death. It consisted of 50 pounds' and approximately 300 dollars' worth of steak sewn into a dress. The dress was displayed, unrefrigerated, on a hanger next to a photo of a woman wearing the dress in the National Museum of Canada.

Wait. Unrefrigerated? Yes, this dress was just hanging there, decomposing in front of a large audience. It had to be replaced after 6 weeks of being on display. Slightly cheaper meat was used for the replacement, totaling 260 bucks instead of 300. Talk about a temporary exhibit.

The backlash to this piece was insane. Countless protestors sent in food scraps to the museum. Goodness knows where those all went, but I daresay anybody on staff with a dog had a happy pooch by the time this was over. It's fairly hard to send raw stuff through the U.S. mail, so someone in Canada must have really gone above and beyond.

As much as I like Gaga, I must admit that Sterbak's meat dress is more profound. Gaga's description of her own outfit sounded, well, like it had been cobbled together by her marketing team. Like many of her outfits, the meat dress was a sensation piece. It works just fine regardless of the generation it appears in. It's not like meat will ever be high fashion or anythi-

...kill me now.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Newsflash: Avatar Land At Animal Kingdom?!

Let me tell you all a story. When Disney's Animal Kingdom first opened, there was a huge promotion going on at McDonald's. The toys and Happy Meal box both advertised a dragon. Yes, it was a pretty obvious cash grab, but I was young at the time and wanted to see the dragon when I went to Disney World.

Much to my disappointment, the dragon was no longer there when I arrived- or, rather, it had never really been there. The area focusing on mythical creatures had been removed in favor of providing the real creatures with better care. The park was still fun, and the dragon remained a toy in my reptile drawer and little more.

Now they're at risk of doing that again. Behold, project Avatar Land:

Let me make one point perfectly clear: I am not objecting to an Avatar theme park. Given that Avatar had an extremely impressive world, it makes perfect sense to make a theme park around that.  However, it does not belong in Animal Kingdom, despite having spectacular otherworldly fauna and a strong conservation message. Both of these points would backfire, potentially costing Disney just as much as the dragon would have. Assuming they have the same rationale as before, they should not go ahead with Avatar Land.

It is not that I do not see why Disney decided to put Avatar in Animal Kingdom to begin with. There are two reasons that I can see Avatar fitting in at Animal Kingdom: the pseudoscience that went into Pandora and the conservation message present in the movie. I cover pseudoscience a la Mermaids: The Body Found on this blog, which one could argue Avatar is an extension of. Even so, both of these reasons fall flat when one considers that this is Avatar we are dealing with.

As many previous entries may tell you, I love pseudoscience. Avatar is loaded with amazing pseudoscience that no doubt had thousands of hours funneled into it. They thought long and hard about almost everything, from Na'vi traditions to animal habits to evolutionary things and skeletons. Banshees, for example, evolved from a fishlike ancestor, and the evidence can be found in their odd jaws. That's pretty cool. So, let's say it again: pseudoscience is fun.

The problem is that it is indeed Avatar we are dealing with. Much of the pseudoscience behind Avatar is based on either extinct life or deepsea life. Bioluminescence, while not impossible to come by in shallow waters, is largely reserved for abyssal creatures. Said creatures do not do well on land, and cannot be kept in normal fishtanks. The use of an extinct or nonexistent animal to support conservation speaks for itself. (Yes, save the endangered dragon!) While they could put in, say, a black leopard because it's similar to Thanator, the point still might not come across; ultimately, we're talking about different creatures. Pandora is its own world with its own ecology. In short, this point bites itself nicely on its own rear end.

Going back to the point earlier, then, about the area on mythical creatures that was scrapped: I'm still bummed about it, but agree with Animal Kingdom's decision to retcon it in favor of providing a better experience for the animals. It's hard to use mythical animals to push any sort of environmental theme. Yes, I've used mythical creatures to help illustrate a point or two, usually citing real creatures as a basis for, say, wyverns. With Avatar, it's a tiny bit harder to do that; try and explain to a kid that a flying fish in a tank is a potential ancestor for the Banshee. (That said, it would be kind of awesome if they used Stitch to help preserve the unique flora and fauna of Hawaii. That I could see working much better than Avatar, if only because Stitch started as an alien lifeform and found true happiness on good ol' Earth. "Help keep Stitch's home beautiful!"- watch, kids will be throwing pennies in and recycling like crazy.) As long as you can make the connection really, really well, it's still doable...but Avatar has been confirmed not to do it.

The other point, conservation, has an ironic hypocrisy that is not related to the use of nonexistent species at all. Contrary to Cameron's intent, Pandora made people care less about the environment, perhaps in part because the message was so poorly delivered. People committed suicide because they felt their world was "gray" in comparison to Pandora. That should be enough to tell someone that their message isn't getting across. The message did not get across, and the writers were beating the audience over the head with it. That is how poorly-communicated it was. People didn't start planting trees after seeing the movie; they wondered when Avatar the MMO was coming out. The world was actually so awesome that the message to save our world almost got lost.

How could it fail? One reviewer said that Avatar was an event, like when Star Wars first appeared in theaters. This is more or less true. We were meant to experience Pandora as opposed to paying attention to the thin storyline or characters. That was the biggest strength of the movie. This makes it prime amusement park fodder...but its ideal setting is most likely not Animal Kingdom.

Rather, the better bet may have been to pitch the idea to Universal Studios. Not only does Universal already have some deals with 20th Century Fox under their belts, but the whole theme of the park is "ride the movies." I have zero doubt that this is exactly what Avatar Land would entail - the experience of Pandora all over again, complete with riding a Banshee in an awesome flight simulator. That would be cool, and I would be all for it. As for Disney? Look into making working Keyblades for VR Kingdom Hearts.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Creature Feature: Black Swallower.

It's about time I got back into the swing of things. That means more cool creatures, hopefully with another 6-day week of entries at a faster pace. There is still more weird stuff out there, and I intend to cover a lot of it. In this case, a friend of mine was awesome enough to send me a real monstrosity:

The black fish above is a black swallower (Chiasmodon niger). These small (10 inch) fish are restricted to dark, tropical and subtropical waters.  They themselves are rather dark, being brown and scaleless like many non-glowing abyssal animals. They eat bony fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yes, we are still talking about the tiny black fish - not the pearly blue fish it attempted to eat.

Oh, and yes, the thing did indeed swallow something larger than its entire body up there. It can swallow prey over twice its length and ten times its mass. The black swallower doesn't bother to chew them, either - just swallows them whole, presumably jaw-walking over them from the tail up just to fit it all in. Nobody has ever seen this taking place. This is almost like a human swallowing a whole cow without chewing, regardless. Have fun with that image.

To help with this insane capacity to swallow, the black swallower's stomach is so stretchy that it makes python skin look like plastic. Things are enclosed whole in the stomach lining, which can stretch so thin that it looks like a bubble waiting to be popped. As one can imagine, this doesn't work 100% of the time; many black swallowers have been found with their stomachs popped like fleshy bubbles.

It's a miracle that almost nobody has done anything in pop culture with this weird little fish. Its strange eating habits sound like the perfect setup for a monster. Combine it with certain other abyssal creatures and we might have a terror of the deep on par with Jaws. Better still, its young have been found near Bermuda. Hm...I sense a new B-horror flick coming on.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bio-Art: So Human An Animal.

If possible, go check out the bargain bin at a book store, or the book sales at a local library. Books make better friends than cell phones, 3DS's, or any other electronic device on a plane, so it never hurts to have a good book or two when traveling. Bargain bins are an awesome source for good books, if a little worn. You never know what you'll find.

I managed to find this at a discount book sale: So Human An Animal by Rene Dubos. Its whole argument is that, as technology progresses, humanity will start to lose what makes it human. In order to retain our humanity, we must get back to nature on some level. Published in 1968, many of its ideas are now outdated...because we implemented them.

First of all, let me say that this book is well-written. The writer was a French immigrant who did not have English as his native language. Even so, the imagery is excellent, the text well-supported with a million citations (in the back of the book), and the points crystal clear. He writes better than most English-speakers I know. It's pretty enough that I'm calling it art; there is definite skill and beauty, even though it's nonfiction.

Wikipedia does not so much as give one a summary of this Pulitzer-winning book, so the burden falls on li'l old me. In short, the book thoroughly details the influence the environment has on an individual - physically, psychologically, and psychosomatically. The urban environment is particularly toxic, harboring numerous pollutants, overcrowding, and, most importantly, removal from nature. The mindset of "produce more so we can consume more so that we can produce even more" does indeed not make sense, and is a vicious cycle that needs to stop.

And y'know what? We've made steps towards that...or have tried. LEED certified buildings are, for example, both a triumph and an epic fail. They economize on energy, but LEED-certified buildings also tend to abuse glass to help their eco-friendly goals. Birds do not realize there is glass; thus, a lot of bird crashes occur around LEED buildings. Farmer's markets are now fairly frequent in cities, even if the food still comes from far away. Finally, yes, even office buildings are now dotted with greenery to make the area more bearable. Given the prominence of this book, it would not be surprising if many such ideas came directly from it.

So Human An Animal is one of those books that helped shape the modern world as we know it. Aside from perhaps Silent Spring and Thoreau's diary from Walden Pond, no book has had so much to say about man's relationship with nature. It's awesome that I was able to find it in a bargain bin.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Newsflash: Name That Fish and Win A Trip!

There's an unconscious gap between scientists and laypeople. Usually, the average Joe has nothing to do with labs and such. We're just the consumers of science; we don't make it. That's up to smart people in labs with white coats...right?

Well, National Geographic is doing something about that. A new fish has been discovered, and it's up to you and I to give it a common name. The scientists have their hands full tracing the fish's taxonomic history, but anyone can give it a common name. From July 31 to August 26th, National Geographic is giving one of us non-science-y folks a chance to name a colorful fish cited off the coast of Chile. More below:

"What's in a name? Whether you're star-crossed lovers in a Shakespeare play or researchers exploring the ends of the Earth, names can be everything. A proper name can transcend languages and cultures, allowing anyone around the world to know who or what you're talking about.

Now, folks have a chance to help give a mystery fish a new identity—and for one lucky contest winner, a chance to go on a ten-day trip to the Galápagos.

Discovered in February in the seas surrounding the Desventuradas Islands (the "unfortunate" islands in Spanish) off the coast of Chile, experts say this fish (pictured) could be a new species.
The National Geographic Society is holding a contest from July 31 to August 26 to give this mystery fish a common name. People can enter their submissions in the comment box below. (Learn more about the contest rules.)

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala came upon the four-inch (ten-centimeter) creature while exploring a seamount near San Félix Island (map) in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
While maneuvering a submersible 436 feet (133 meters) down a basalt wall, Sala and colleagues spotted several brightly colored spots hovering near the rock. "We got closer and tried to focus and zoom our video camera to get a closer look, but the spots darted into a hole and disappeared as soon as our submarine lights were on them," Sala wrote in an email." Source and entry page here.

All you have to do is comment with a name on the page linked above. Then you'll be automatically entered into the drawing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to name an animal; take it. The trip to the Galapagos is a nice bonus, too. Have fun, get creative, and good luck!