Wild & Weird: For Rock-like Creature, It Only Takes One to Tango

31 Dec

by the Center for Biological DiversityPyura_chilensis

Pyura chilensis, a rock-like creature with guts and clear blood, dwells on the ocean floor just past the wave breaks along the coast of Chile and Peru. Covered in a stony exterior that conceals flaming red insides, these extraordinary fellas are born male but become intersexed with female gonads at puberty, thus avoiding the painful pangs of adolescent pining. They’re able to reproduce through so-called “selfing” orgies.
 
That’s not to say that P. chilensis is antisocial — indeed, if given the chance these guys do prefer mating by dating. But when mates aren’t available, selfing will suffice: In an undersea spasm of fertility, eggs and sperm are released in a cloud, producing tadpole-like youngsters that will eventually develop the rocky countenances of their happily single mom-dads.
 
Local people crack open these stony libertines and eat their guts raw or stewed, rendering what some have described as a “bitter” and “soapy” taste.
 

 


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