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New laser system provides 3-D reconstructions of living deep-sea animals and mucus filters

Living in an essentially zero-gravity environment, many deep-sea animals have evolved soft, gelatinous bodies and collect food using elaborate mucus filters. Until now, studying these delicate structures has been virtually impossible.

A new study published in the journal Nature describes a unique laser-based system for constructing 3-D models of diaphanous marine animals and the mucus structures they secrete.

According to Kakani Katija, MBARI Principal Engineer and the lead author on the new paper, “Mucus is ubiquitous in the ocean, and complex mucus structures are made by animals for feeding, health, and protection.

Now that we have a way to visualize these structures deep below the surface we can finally understand how they function and what roles they play in the ocean.”

For this study, the researchers focused on one of the most prolific mucus architects, deep-sea animals called larvaceans.

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Larvaceans are abundant throughout the world’s ocean basins and range from less than one centimeter to about 10 centimeters in length.

So-called “giant” larvaceans create balloon-like mucus webs that can be up to a meter […]

read more here —> phys.org

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