Let Us Consider the Scaly-foot Snail

The scaly-foot snail (also known as the “sea pangolin” or “volcano snail”) is a deep-sea hydrothermal-vent snail. It doesn’t just differ greatly from other marine gastropods, or from other deep-sea gastropods, or from other gastropods in general; it differs greatly from everything.

The species was discovered in 2001, living on the bases of black smokers in the Indian Ocean, and wasn’t properly named until 2015. It lives in the  “midnight zone” of the ocean, an abyss darker than the far reaches of our solar system, where the only light comes from the bioluminescence of other animals. To survive down here you need to be your own biome. In this case, that means housing symbiotic gammaproteobacteria in its esophagus. These bacteria subsist on sulfur, and in turn sustain the scaly-foot snail.

i.e., The scaly-foot snail lives on the largesse of bacteria that eat brimstone.

Now about those scales and it’s shell:

They are made of iron. The scales on its foot overlap like roofing tiles, forming a flexible plate-armor.

“Each shell layer appears to contribute to the effectiveness of the snail’s defence in different ways. The middle organic layer appears to absorb mechanical strain and energy generated by a squeezing attack (for example by the claws of a crab), making the shell much tougher. The organic layer also acts to dissipate heat. Features of this composite material are in focus of researchers for possible use in civilian and military protective applications.”

Scaly-foot gastropod” via Wikipedia

These are the only living animal known to use iron in their skeleton. That shell rusts as they age.

They are under two inches, mostly. Those two smooth, pink, forked “cephalic tentacles” aren’t eye-stalks, as they might be on land snails; the scaly-foot snail has no eyes. It has no copulatory organs, either. But it nonetheless has “high fecundity,” as it is a “simultaneous hermaphrodite”—it has both types of sex organs at the same time, and can produce both types of gametes within the same breeding season. If told to go fuck itself, the scaly-foot snail can and will, and won’t take offense. 

That might be because it has a bigger heart—relative to its body—then any other animal, around 4% of it’s volume.  By comparison, a whale or human heart is closer to 1/4 or 1/3 that proportion.

Let us consider the scaly-foot snail. They—for each of them is most decidedly a they—have iron bones on the outside, and are armored where their cousins are so notoriously gooey.  They thrive on brimstone down in the hell-fires bubbling deep beneath everything we know or recognize.  They are so little, and so alien, but they’ve got a while lotta love to give. 

There’s a lesson here, I’m sure of it—but I’m helpless to articulate it in any clear way, try as I might.

Recommended Read/Listen: “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” by Jon Padgett

PseudoPod 433: “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism”

I absolutely guarantee the last couple twists are ones you ain’t gonna see coming, dummy. 

[photo credit: “Photo booth portrait of two clowns and a ventriloquist dummy” by oakenroad is licensed under CC BY 2.0. ]

“Big Dick Brigade!” *tee hee!*

Yes, this was a real ad for a real thing, with no entendre intended. And, yes, I have the mentality of a toddler.

Although lines of ad copy such as “Get Big Dick and be envied by every boy in town,” “Become a member of the ‘Big Dick Brigade,’” and “How to get BIG DICK free” might seem like obvious double entendres to modern audiences, they were not read as such by customers of the time.

Is This a Real Ad for a ‘Big Dick’ Machine Gun for Kids?” by David Mikkelson
vintage advertisement for "Big Dick" toy gun via https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/big-dick-machine-gun-toy/

Was the Pied Piper of Hamelin a child molester?

SPOILER ALERT: Nope. But the facts are sorta more interesting, if less sensational: The Straight Dope: “Was the Pied Piper of Hamelin a child molester?”

Anyway, have a great school year everyone!

Study for 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin': The Children c.1871 George John Pinwell 1842-1875
Study for ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’: The Children c.1871 George John Pinwell 1842-1875 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02689

Dave, Tell Me the Tale of Tommy Tucker, the Trans Squirrel Pope Beloved by 1940s America!

Not much to tell, really: Lil Tommy Tucker was orphaned as an infant, and then adopted and raised Mrs. Mark Bullis of Washington, D.C.  It’s unclear when Tommy decided they preferred living life as a human female (as opposed to continuing to identify as a male squirrel).  I presume they were ultimately made Squirrel Pope, on account most squirrels were extremely progressive “Liberation” Catholics prior to the Red Scare. Since then, mainline squirrels have largely gravitated toward Lutheranism, and gotten hella racist. Pretty messed up, when you think about it.

(Yes, that is a real live squirrel in the picture.)

To learn more about this remarkable rodent and his contribution to Post-War America, ask your local librarian, or just click this link: LIFE Magazine: “A Squirrel’s Guide to Fashion

There’s a Hexagonal Storm Larger than the Earth Rotating at Saturn’s North Pole ‽


natural color animation of hexagonal storm on Saturn (via Wikipedia)
natural color animation of hexagonal storm on Saturn (via Wikipedia)
  • NASA’s page on this weather phenomenon (with some stunning images and animations):  
  • Good overview of the science behind this over on Wikipedia

This weather feature has lasted decades, if not centuries. YOU HAD AMPLE TIME TO MENTION IT!!!

How do we sleep with the roiling eye of an angry God staring at us?

(via NASA) https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/cassini/science/saturn/hexagon-in-motion/
(via NASA)

See also:

"Saturn Devouring His Son" by Francisco Goya
“Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya