Reader and Friend Of Pootie Nisa Blackmon recently corrected me about a misapprehension I had concerning how sea urchins take a dump. If this is not the only blog you’ll read today that starts out like that, I hope it’s the first.
As she explained, they don’t really take a dump, at least not in the gravity-assisted way we have grown accustomed to. Their anus is on the top of their body. That seems like really poor design but we have to remember they’re underwater for the event, and presumably their effluent leaves the immediate area. Up until now I had not considered that the ocean is basically a giant toilet. This cements my determination to avoid it, especially as it is not airworthy, and I do not have gills.
Well. Under the circumstances it only makes sense to put the anus on top. Those circumstances being that the urchin’s mouth is on the bottom end, where it can hoover algae and such from various surfaces, and in general animals are designed to poop as far away from their mouths as possible. Flip yourself upside down to mow algae on the sea floor with your lips and you will note that your anus is on top, too.
Urchins have five-fold symmetry, which is unusual in the animal kingdom. You’d think that if they were doubling up, however many times, they’d come out even. But they start out bilateral like us, and then the left side only gets busy and divides, and the right side stays put to be the oddball. We end up with a basically spherical animal, like Chris Christie.
It’s hard to argue with success. That anus arrangement has been going on for a long time. And individual urchins apparently keep growing, however slowly, until something eats them, such as a Japanese person. They can get to be a hundred years old, or even 200, with few signs of aging, which is understandable in a critter that starts out with sprouty hairs and dribbles poop on itself. What more could it do, keep the turn signal on? Scientists have learned a lot about their longevity by measuring the Carbon-14 in their little round suits, thoughtfully deposited during the nuclear bomb testing of the 1950s. They really don’t know how old an urchin can get, although science is intrigued by the discovery of a massive urchin with what is thought to be catapult dents.
I just had a little fun at the sea urchins’ expense, so let me correct the record to note that even old urchins do not dribble poop on themselves, but eject it forcefully. (Related sea stars have anal cones for the same purpose so as to distance themselves from their personal magma.) They probably do have to get up to go several times a night, though.
Aristotle, who had the benefit of being a curious fellow in a time when nobody knew anything, studied almost everything, including urchins, and he referred to the purpose of the anus as providing “issue of the residuum.” I plan to work this into my vocabulary as soon as possible.
So there’s a mouth and an anus and lots of tubes inside for organizing stuff once it’s in there, but what about sex? It’s a little disappointing. Female urchins expel eggs that float freely in the water, and male urchins produce milt that can fertilize any eggs it encounters. This method is scientifically known as “jacking off,” or, if it keeps up for a long time, “on and onanism.”
It doesn’t seem like much of a plan, but urchins have been around for 450 million years. That’s a pretty good run for something that has an asshole at the top. Take heart, America.
It's a little known fact that politicians differ from regular shmoes like us in their physiology; in fact, they more closely resemble sea urchins. They too spout poop out the tops of their heads, and their mouths are where a person's anus usually is. (Hence, they "talk a lot of shit.") Where are their brains kept, you might ask? Some people believe that they have no brains, but that is patently ridiculous. Of course they do! But they are very tiny and are in their scrotal sac. Which explains their sexual rapacity to the point that they actually think of little else.
I hope these "facts" have set you straight on the physical makeup of Politicians.
Gee! Okay! I make a FEW distinctions between politicians. I even likes some of 'em.
Now it is going to be more difficult to listen while Chris Christie spouts his drivel!
Is he even still 'round?
I thought he was kind of pear-shaped.
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"That's a pretty good run for something that has an asshole at the top. Take heart, America."
Oh, BURN, Murr! Did not see that coming 🙂
Educational and funny as always.
That line summed it up beautifully!!
You'd think I had it in mind all along, but half the time I don't know WHERE these things are going.
I can't tell you how much I love this post. LOL. And very interesting info, didn't know any of this about urchins, particularly their longevity!
Me neither. I wonder if I'll remember any of it later.
No. The very best line is on and onanism. Others are good. But that one gets my vote.
I was also very impressed.
Oh shoot, I'm always happy if anyone gets my stuff at all.
That's a pretty purple urchin. I love the ocean and have always known it is a giant toilet, but used to swim in it anyway. These days I'm content to just paddle and watch the waves instead. Particularly when a storm is coming in, I love a stormy ocean.
That would be my favorite, too: from a vantage point well inland.
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the world of poop until I started reading your blog. You have expanded my knowledge in ways no one else would take the time to do. I should be grateful shouldn't I?
It speaks to something deep inside you. Recently read, BTW, that bats have sparkly poop.
I don't know if it's sparkly, but I've been at the bridge in Austin, TX to witness millions (I think) of bats leaving at sunset to fly south and eat zillions (I think) of pounds of bugs. What I do know is that they are very noisy and very smelly when there are that many of them.
Which ever way you look at it, faecal facetiousness or a squit skit, we like!
Or a "scat skit"?
I can see I need to branch out from "poop post."
Well, one other thing that the sea urchin does is provide some of the most delicious sushi on earth. When it's fresh. Many people think it's the roe that is served, it's not, though it does have a relationship to urchin roe.
I've never had urchin sushi. Is it hollow?
No, it's kind of tan color, looks like it might be roe but ain't. It has a creamy, rich taste. It's completely unlike what we think of as sushi, but then so are california rolls…..
Hey, thanks for the shout-out! And I hope you enjoyed your foray into urchin physiology — you were spot on! I wish my students would get that excited about it… If you want to see something else really cool about urchins, check out their (brace yourself) pedicillariae. These are basically little sets of jaws on a stalk that wave around at the base of the spines and dissuade other small organisms from settling & taking up residence on the urchin surface. 'Cause when you move as slow as an urchin does, you are a sitting duck for marine development if you don't have something to fight the buggers off! Some urchins have more than one kind, and some seastars have them, too (only not stalked). Ain't echinoderms grand??
Oh I am a total sucker for this kind of thing, and I am grateful to you for pointing me in this direction. Are you an echinoderm specialist or a marine biology specialist or what?