Plants That Can Count
Plants lack nervous systems, but does that preclude them from thinking? It’s a provocative question that preoccupies plant neurobiology, an emerging and controversial field that aims to study how plants process information.
It’s clear that our leafy brethren are capable of amazing behaviors. The Cornish mallow Lavatera cretica, for instance, can swivel its leaves around at night so that they’re facing the direction of next morning’s sunrise, behavior that requires the plant to anticipate the future. What’s more, young shoots of corn can remember the directions of light sources.
Monica Gagliano, a biologist at the University of Western Australia, has even argued that plants can learn like Pavlov’s dogs. In a 2016 study published in Scientific Reports, Gagliano and her colleagues reported that pea plants can be conditioned to associate two different stimuli, in this case, a whirring fan and the presence of blue light.
It’s not quite Little Shop of Horrors; nobody’s claiming that the flytrap is self-aware . Nevertheless, it’s impressive.
Meet The Creature That Eats Its Own Brain
Posted by Steven Goodheart on January 27, 2010 ·;
The sea squirt is one of my favorite sea creatures.; When I was a young boy, I first met my first one in a tidal pool in Laguna Beach, California.; I remember bending down close to examine it, and like any kid, I gave it a gentle poke.; Imagine my surprise when it squirted me right in the eye!; The creature is well named, but theres way more to this amazing animal than its squirt gun.
Sea squirts belong to a remarkable group of undersea animals called tunicates. As I explained in my previsous post, Meet the Amazing Salp, tunicates are saclike filter-feeders that live on plankton and organic matter they strain from the water they pump through their bodies.
Although one could hardly tell by looking at their squishy bodies, sea squirts are also part of the phylum of chordatesthe group of animals that include fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals!; This is because in their larval stage, sea squirts have many of the anatomical features of vertebrate animals.
Sea squirts come in an amazing variety of shapes and colors. Superficially, they can look like sponges:
Or they can look like rubbery blobs, when living in colonies:
Or they can even look like grapes
Five More Simple Sea Creatures Without Hearts:
Other sea creatures also live without a heart. Thats not so hard to believe when you see them.
They are super-simple creatures as well and they dont have internal organs.
Here is a list of these animals:
The Sea Cucumbers are probably the only animal from the small list above that does look a bit like an animal that could have a heart.
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Sea Squirts Eat Their Own Brains
Sea squirts are hermaphrodites . They spawn by releasing eggs and sperm into the water at the same time. Soon eggs develop into free-swimming larvae. As the larvae arent capable of feeding they soon attach themselves headfirst to a spot where they will spend the rest of their lives. Then the transformation begins and the sea squirt larvae begins absorbing all their tadpole-like parts and it even absorbs the brain ganglion. .So it is true that the sea squirt devours its own brain but luckily this occurs after the creature has stopped needing it.
Brainless Creatures Can Do Some Incredibly Smart Things
Some life on Earth can count, anticipate future events, and design railway networks without the distinctive organ.
There’s no denying that human intelligence makes our species stand out from other life on Earth. Our brains much more than our brawn account for our evolutionary successesas well as our sometimes devastating impacts on the planet.
Our modern brain is an evolutionary feat more than 520 million years in the making, and it is the key to everything that makes us human. But while human brains are extraordinary, we don’t have a monopoly on intelligence.
Reserving the term ‘cognition’ for typically human problem-solving abilities … and dismissing simpler behavior as mechanistic, reflexive, and hard-wired does not do justice to the behavioral complexities of even the simplest of organisms, University of Gronigen psychologist and his colleagues write in a widely cited 2006 paper on cognition.
Depending on your definition, some basic hallmarks of intelligencefrom decision-making to learningcan even be found in creatures that don’t have brains at all. Here are a few examples of brainless organisms that are actually pretty smart.
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Animals That Dont Have A Brain: Sea Urchins
The sea urchins water vascular system allows it to move quicker.
Sea urchins are pointy, spiky animals, and any beachcomber in their bare feet might discover this in the worst way. Fortunately, outside of South Florida, sea urchins are not poisonous.
The creature has an untold number of legs and controls feeding with its water vascular system. That system changes the amount of pressure and water in its body, allowing it to move faster.
The creatures mouth is beneath it. They expel excrement from the top of their bodies. The sea urchin sits on stones, scraping and feeding on algae. In many ways, this action keeps the ocean clean.
Corvids Are Surprisingly Smart
The corvids have surprised scientists with their remarkable memory, their ability to employ complex social reasoning and their capacity to craft and use tools. Mr Bird, who is based at the department of zoology at Cambridge University and is supervised by Dr Nathan Emery, says: I would rate corvids as being as intelligent as primates in many ways.
The corvids are a group of birds that include: ravens, crows, jackdaws, jays, rooks, and magpies. They are very social birds who have the ability to identify individuals, form alliances and nurture relationships.
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Animals That Dont Have A Brain: Sea Sponges
Waste from the ocean helps sea sponges survive.
Among the animal kingdoms most primitive animals, the sea sponge stays relatively immobile. Its the water that moves them around and makes them look like theyre dancing. Their survival centers around filtering detritus from the ocean. They have no brains, organs, neurons, or tissue.
What the sea sponge has in common with humans is a genetic component that resembles synapses. Synapses use neurotransmitters to carry messages across the synaptic gap.
Heres another curious factoid about this animal: When a foreign object gets into their system, the creature draws in water and then squirts it out through a big sneeze. Thats a recent scientific discovery, and it implies that despite a lack of a brain, the sea sponge is aware of its ecosystem.
Animals That Dont Have A Brain: Corals
Heres the great distinction between plants and animals: animals seek food; the plant produces its own. The coral joins the animal in seeking food. They make up small lots of tiny creatures. These coral polyps munch on zooplankton lingering in the ocean. Coral catches the plankton with their retractable tentacles and then they feed.
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This Animal Sleeps But Has No Brain
Some of Earths first animals might have just given scientists their first evidence that sleep is not what we think it is.
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Jellyfish, which first arose about 700 million years ago, are great playgrounds for studying the evolution of sleep because of their ageand because they have a complex set of nerve cells but no brain.
Experts have always assumed that brains are;pre-requisites for sleep, since sleep is so intimately connected with memory, learning, and other neurobiological processes.;But sleeps enduring value over many millennia has remained a mystery. Sleep makes an organism vulnerable to attack. Plus, its time spent doing nothing as opposed to eating and building ones energy stores.
Heres Sarah Kaplan, reporting for The Washington Post:
Earthworms Have 5 Hearts:
Were talking about the type of worm you can dig up in your garden.
Some people argue that a classic earthworm has 5 hearts.
This is not entirely true as the pump is quite different from what we would normally describe as a heart.
The worms body is quite long so it needs a pump in order to circulate.
It does not have a heart like you and me with multiple chambers. However, if we choose to call this pump a heart , when it does, in fact, have five hearts.
The circulatory system consists of five separate pumps in order to have the blood flowing all the way from one to the other.
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Dolphins Brains Are Bigger Than Human Brains
One way of measuring intelligence is by seeing the degree to which the cerebral cortex of the brain is folded. The more folded the cortex, the more room there is within the brain to contain additional neurons . Neurons are responsible for the processing of information. Dolphins are the only animal to have a more folded cortex than humans. Some scientists believe that the main reason dolphins have such a large brain is so that they can process information from their complex echolocation system. The more widely accepted theory is that the larger brain supports complex cognitive abilities.
Does Size Really Matter
While size is loosely linked to brain function, a large brain does not necessarily correspond to a higher level of intelligence. The more important factor for approximating intelligence is how much of the body the brain takes up, or our brain-to-body mass ratio. We can see the brain and body mass of some animals displayed in the graph below. The species above the trend line have higher brain-to-body mass ratios, and are typically thought to be more intelligent than the species with smaller ratios below the line.
Jellyfish Have Gone Into Space
In 1991, moonfish jellyfish travelled into outer space on the Space Shuttle Columbia so that scientists could examine how microgravity affected them. The jellyfish multiplied in space. When they came back to Earth, the scientists discovered that the space-born jellyfish couldn’t figure out how to deal with gravity.
An Extreme Life Cycle
Sea squirts are fascinating animals.; They may look primitive but are in fact one of the most highly evolved marine invertebrates. They start out looking like tadpoles and end up looking like beautiful leathery bags and blobs.; In the process, they lose their minds, so to speak!
In the larval stage, the sea squirt has characteristics that make them part of the same chordate phylum to which all fish, birds, reptiles and mammals belong. In the adult form, the sea squirt is little more than a water pump, pumping water into its vascular system, extracting nutrients, and pumping the water out.
Truly, the sea squirt has one of the most extreme and unusual life cycles of any animal.; It is certainly one of the most unusual and strangely beautiful creatures in our oceans.
Be sure to check out this terrific article on sea squirts at Inkling Magazine. It has lots of great science, with a great discussion of how sea squirts propagate themselves:
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Land Animals Without Brains
So, all these animals are water creatures. Arent there any land animals without a brain?
No, we dont believe so.
We havent been able to find any and if you know of a terrestial animal without a brain wed love to hear from you. It seems that in order to function without a brain you need a simpler environment than you find on land.
In the deep sea, you can eat whatever swims by you without putting any thought into that but on land, you are more dependent on hunting and surviving skills.
Animals That Dont Have A Brain: Sea Squirts
The sea squirt has a very tiny brain while in its larva stage.
Get ready for the weirdest creature on this list. To start, the sea squirt is both male and female. As a hermaphrodite, it has both sexual reproductive organs the creature does not need a mate to have children. Their tadpole larvae result from sperm and eggs that come from a single animal.
Heres where it gets weird: in its larva stage, the sea squirt actually has a brain; its tiny, but its there. However, the creature is unable to find food or eat in its larva form, so it quickly settles in a spot and stays there for the rest of its life. Once the sea squirt has found its home, it begins to eat its brain.
Once gone, the creature spends the rest of its lifespan without a brain!
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Animals That Dont Have A Brain: Jellyfish
Jellyfish function using only sensory nerves.
Called jellies, this family of translucent creatures is unique. All other creatures without brains tend to be immobile, often spending their entire existence in a single spot. Jellyfish move with the ocean current. They also squirt water that can move them forward.
The jellyfish functions through a network of sensory nerves. Tentacles react to foreign objects with a shooting sting. That sting releases a toxin capable of neutralizing or killing the intruder.
Which Animals Have No Brain
There is actually a list of animals which has neither a heart nor a brain.
All of these animals live underwater and theres a good reason for that.
In the water, you dont have to hunt your own food. You can get away with just floating around and wait for food to find its way into your mouth.
Heres a list of 12 sea creatures with no brain or hearts:
In that post, we also look at how they function without a heart, such as a Jellyfish!
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A Jellyfish Is Called A Medusa
Jellyfish often look like a bell with tentacles all around the edge or hanging off the bottom. The shape of this bell is called a medusa because it looks like the evil Medusa in Greek mythology – a woman who had offended the goddess Athena who then changed her hair into snakes and made her face so hideous it turned people into stone. Medusa is also the word for jellyfish in many other languages including Greek, Hebrew and French.
Finally Why Do Octopuses Have Blue Blood
Are you still wondering why octopus blood is blue and what the three hearts do?
Well, the blue blood is because the protein, haemocyanin, which carries oxygen around the octopus’s body, contains copper rather than iron like we have in our own haemoglobin.
The copper-based protein is more efficient at transporting oxygen molecules in cold and low-oxygen conditions, so is ideal for life in the ocean.
If the blood becomes deoxygenated – when the animal dies, for example – it loses its blue colour and turns clear instead.
An octopus’s three hearts have slightly different roles. One heart circulates blood around the body, while the other two pump it past the gills, to pick up oxygen.
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Animals That Dont Have A Brain: Oysters
They may not have a brain, but an oysters ability to make pearls is notable.
Relative to the clam, the oyster is infamous for enclosing precious pearls in its shell. But its a treasure hunt since your odds of finding a perfect pearl are roughly one in a million.
Oysters filter water and remove organic particles like plankton to eat them. They can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, giving them enough food to lasts a while.
Kauai Cave Wolf Spider
Loads of people dont like spiders. In fact, arachnophobia is among the most frequently experienced fears in the world, thought to affect as many as one in two women and one in ten men. Still, like a lot of other spiders that people are afraid of, the Kauai cave wolf spider is not dangerous to humans. What makes this spider particularly easy to identify is the fact that it has no eyes, differentiating it from other wolf spiders. Nicknamed the blind spider by locals, the species is very rare and endangered and can only be found in a small selection of caves in the K?loaPo?ip? region on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The spider is a tiny 0.8 inches in length and mostly feeds on a type of cave amphipod. Why is the Kauai cave wolf spider so special ? Well, instead of using a web to catch its prey, it runs after its victims and seizes them with its triad of big teeth. Yikes!
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The Hagfish Has Four Hearts:
Another weird animal with multiple hearts is the Hagfish.
It has four hearts!
Let break it down and see what they do:
The hagfish has one of the lowest blood pressure levels of all vertebrates .