Thursday, November 25, 2010

Arthropoda

I love Wikipedia. While I wouldn't trust it for medical information and sometimes I find it to be laughably incorrect, I do go frequently to the website for a quick lookup of some half-remembered fact that I need to verify or learn more about. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about arthropoda, currently my favorite animal phylum:

"An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton (external skeleton), a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arthropods are members of the phylum Arthropoda (from Greek ἄρθρονarthron, "joint", and ποδός podos "foot", which together mean "jointed feet"), and include the insects,arachnids, crustaceans, and others. Arthropods are characterized by their jointed limbs and cuticles, which are mainly made of α-chitin; the cuticles of crustaceans are also biomineralized with calcium carbonate. The rigid cuticle inhibits growth, so arthropods replace it periodically by molting. The arthropod body plan consists of repeated segments, each with a pair of appendages. It is so versatile that they have been compared to Swiss Army knives, and it has enabled them to become the most species-rich members of all ecological guilds in most environments. They have over a million described species, making up more than 80% of all described living animal species, and are one of only two animal groups that are very successful in dry environments – the other being the amniotes. They range in size from microscopic plankton up to forms a few meters long."

All I can say is, thank heavens this is not molting season. Molting season is when it's illegal to catch crabs as they mate, rather like us, when they have taken their clothes off and it's only fair to leave the poor darlings alone when they are making undersea whoopee.

By November, however, their shells are hard again, their dizzy days of salty sex are over, and they are fair game. On the TV news, we watched with avid interest as the crabbers came ashore with the first catch of the season, thousands of wriggling, protesting crustaceans sliding out of the crab pots and into the boiling water. I was astonished by the wealth of the catch, the sheer numbers of crabs out there looking for the crabbers' baits. Better writers than I have written about the bounty of the sea - it is simply mind boggling. That we humans are fully capable of exhausting that bounty amazes and sobers me, too.

Today, however, I'm happily ranged among the consumers. My Beloved brought home two nice, big Dungeness crabs, all cleaned and cracked, as a surprise for me last night. We toasted the start of crab season with a glass of La Crema rosé and feasted on the sweet, sweet meat. A few newspapers and slices of sourdough bread and butter are all we need. When seafood is this fresh, it needs no embellishment whatever.

My Thanksgiving wish for you is at least one meal from the phylum Arthropoda this season.

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3 Comments:

Blogger James said...

Fresh crab on Thanksgiving is a tradition around here, always look forward to it. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOURS!

Thursday, November 25, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Well, it's no wonder the divers call them bugs!
Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 25, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

James, thanks, and right back at ya!

Cookiecrumb, exactly! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Cranky, too.

Friday, November 26, 2010  

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