Nature Blog Network

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spineless Song of the Week - Ballad of the Inarticulate Brachiopod

Lingula anatina from Sumatra. Photo originally published in Emig 2003.

This weeks Spineless Song is a collaboration with Christopher Taylor from the Catalogue of Organisms. He wrote all of the words (though I tweaked 1 or 2 here and there) and I did the music. As always, the song is in the sidebar.

Brachiopods (arm-foot) are not only weird, they are freakin' weird. They are members of the clade Lophophorata (fun to say!) meaning they possess a special organ called a lophophore. This odd organ fuctions in feeding and the structure is shared with ectoprocts (a.k.a. bryozoans, the mossimals) and phoronids (Mr. Byrnes do you still have My Phoronid online??).

Click here for 3D stereo image reconstruction of a Silurian Brachiopod!! (From Dr. Mark Sutton, Imperial College London)

Ballad of the Inarticulate Brachiopod

I am an inarticulate Brachiopod form
Just an ordinary linguloid trying to keep to the norm

I keep my bauplan unchanged hundreds, millions of years
While articulates diverge madly, I prefer a lower gear

Phosphatocopids, Hyolithelminthes no longer here with me,
And yet I still wear phosphate no carbonate you see

Those aragonitic taxa with their diversity of forms,
May think themselves above me, may think they've won the war.

But I'll bet you dimes to horseshoes that when they've had their run
I'll still be here just simply unaltered in the mud.


  1. Didn't the Knack do a song called "My Phoronid?" (probably before your time)

  2. I found it on the Stachowicz Lab website:

    My Phoronid
    amalgam of bits from N. McGinn, J. Byrnes, K Hultgren, and more
    (to the tune of "My Sharona")

    Do you have a lophophore, lophophore?
    Do you have a lophophore, my phoronid!
    Only in Bodega bay, Tomales bay,
    Only in Bodega bay, my phoronid!

    When you gonna satablize the sand
    Smell so bad you scare away all the crabs
    Make a little clam safe at home
    My, my, my, my, my, woo!
    My my my my Phoronid!

  3. I'm impressed you were able to make Hyolithelminthes fit the metre!

    So sad that Lophophorata is no more - there seems to be ever-decreasing support for the idea that bryozoans have anything to do with the other two. Brachiopods and phoronids are still rock-solid (with Brachiozoa being the name for this clade) - there's even some very equivocal evidence that phoronids may sit within brachiopods, with lingulates closer to phoronids than other brachiopods.

  4. The Lophophorata is dead, long live the Lophophorata.

    They will never be dead in my eyes. I learned invertebrate zoology with the Lophophorata. I just don't see how the lophophore could convergently evolve. The molecules are wrong this time.

  5. Very nice dude. I'm really feeling the peaceful solitude of invertebrate existence right now...

  6. I just don't see how the lophophore could convergently evolve

    Pterobranchs have a lophophore that is even more similar to the brachiozoan structure than the bryozoan one is (though the entoproct structure is apparently something different). Not even the morphology supports Lophophorata.

    Nielsen, C. 2002. The phylogenetic position of Entoprocta, Ectoprocta, Phoronida, and Brachiopoda. Integrative and Comparative Bology 42 (3): 685-691.

  7. Just stop with your "facts". It doesn't mean anything. I know deep inside myself, a gut feeling, that the Lophophorata are real man! I have faith in their existence, clearly the Ectoprocts, Phoronids and Brachiopods are similary designed therefore clearly they are closely related.

    Thanks for the reference though, I will read it and then ignore it.


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