Scientists learn how tiny ocean critters can make ‘snot palaces’

Larvaceans, tadpole-like ocean dwellers, have fascinated researchers for years with their ability to construct elaborate structures to use as protection and a food source. And it's all made out of snot.

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National News

June 4, 2020 - 9:48 AM

Close up view of a "giant larvacean" (blue tadpole-like animal) and its "inner house" (a mucus filter that the animal uses to collect food) Photo by Monterey Bay Area Research Institute

KENSINGTON, Maryland (AP) — Master builders of the sea construct the equivalent of a complex five-story house that protects them from predators and funnels and filters food for them — all from snot coming out of their heads.

And when these delicate mucus homes get clogged, the tadpole-looking critters — called giant larvaceans — build a new one. Usually every day or so.

These so-called “snot palaces” could possibly help human construction if scientists manage to crack the mucus architectural code, said Kakani Katija, a bioengineer at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

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