Back in the day, I studied marine invertebrates for a bit. For those not in with the cool crowd of coastal-marine scientists, marine invertebrates are critters that live in marine environments and do not have a backbone. For instance, crabs, pawns, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, etc.
Each species in the marine invertebrate cohort have evolved distinctively to withstand the elements of the sea. Incredibly, either fashion their ‘bones’ on the outside of their body (an exoskeleton), hooked nails or even sport a muscular foot to hang on when it gets rough. These critters can endure whatever life throws at them, tough it out when exposed and even get nasty and raunchy under the sea.
Yep, I am about to tell you one of the very few facts I actually remember off the top of my head from my marine invertebrate class. So, what is so interesting about Barnacles?
Not only being inconspicuous shelled rocky shore critters, their reproductive process is pretty pornographic. They are myth busters! You know… what they say about men with big feet. Barnacles actually have the largest penis to body ratio for any other species in the animal kingdom. Now, there’s a fact for your coastal-marine science trivia night!
To add some science substance to this tangent, they are actually hermaphroditic meaning that they have both male and female reproductive parts. This allows them to fertilise each other and not necessarily their neighbour (hence the reason to uncoil the long tubular penis to find a receptive mate). Soon, over 1000 fertilised eggs are released as larvae similar to plankton, which then use chemical and touch receptors to find a suitable rock to call home and lay a foundation slab by releasing cement receptors.
Next time you go rocky rambling take the time to check these little cool critters, cause seriously they have the best of both worlds.