Prize-winning research

Geoff Read g.read at niwa.cri.nz
Sun Jan 14 21:06:52 EST 2001


Hi,

Perhaps I  totally mystified some of you.  For further enlightenment I feel I 
can safely quote 2 paragraphs from "Worms start the reef-building 
process" for purposes of scholarly discussion without risking a copyright 
breach. In fact I could probably have just used the 2 sentences in the first  
paragraph below, but the in depth analysis of the following paragraph 
should not be overlooked.  

"... Less than 1 hour after darkness, the head and upper body of a 
bootlace- thick eunicid worm appeared from a hole in the rock. The worm 
sought out a coral and dragged it to the reef rock in less than 2 seconds 
(Fig. 1). "  

"The persistent nightly efforts of the eunicid worm shown in Fig. 1 to 
expand and elaborate a durable habitat for itself suggest that such 
behaviour must have a genetic basis. Although immature, the worm shown 
in Fig. 1 could raise a 10-g piece of coral above the sand bed of the 
aquarium and cement it, with its photo-synthetic tissue orientated upwards, 
to the side of a piece of reef rock. Fully grown eunicid worms, which can 
be more than 2 m long [3], must be  able to assemble and bind together 
sizeable mounds of hard substrata."  

Reference [3] is to Parker's (1982) 'Synopsis and classification of living 
organisms'. You may wonder whether that citation  best encapsulates 
research both prior to 1982 and to the present day on the  biology and 
identity of these polychaetes. Well, let me reassure you. Of course it does, 
else Nature's ever vigilant editors would have stomped on these nice people 
and not let the urge to run a cute time-series of photos of an interesting but 
trivial occurrence with an unidentified worm outweigh their always 
impeccable judgement.     

:^)

--
  Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.cri.nz>


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