State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Lobsters of the Land

The eyes of crustaceans like mantis shrimp (left) and insects like horseflies (right) may have a common origin in the ancestral group "Pancrustacea." Photo: Science Magazine, O_LUKYANOV/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
The eyes of crustaceans like mantis shrimp (left) and insects like horseflies (right) may have a common origin in the ancestral group “Pancrustacea.” Photo: Science Magazine, O_LUKYANOV/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

 

Life arose from the sea, so they say,

And Earth’s family tree is still branching today.

Our view of the old structure way down below:

Mysterious, shrouded, a faded tableau.

A mandible here, a common gene there,

From shards of the past, a crusty forebear!

Butterflies, beetles, scorpions, fleas

Have much more in common with life in the seas

Than with other critters that you might expect,

Like spiders and millipedes, things kids collect.

The closer we look, the weirder it gets,

But it also makes sense – the twin silhouettes,

Those strange compound eyes, a similar brain …

Meet Pancrustacea, the base of the chain!

Crustaceans and insects, shrimp and lacewing,

Peas in a pod that sometimes will sting.

Cockroaches, grasshoppers, flies all a-flutter,

Think on them as you eat lobster with butter!

 

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Further reading:

All in the (Bigger) Family, Pennisi (2015) Science

This is one in a series of poems written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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