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        Nature's Innovations: Animals as Engineers (Lesson Plan)

        In this lesson, we will investigate how, through the process of evolution, animals have solved their engineering problems and how people have mimicked those natural solutions.

        Flatworms: The First Hunter

        Flatworms, the first animal to hunt, are found in the ocean, freshwater, on land, and even inside other animals. The ancient flatworms were the first animals to develop a central nervous system and a head with a brain. The head had eyes—the first in the animal world. The flatworm body is bilateral—the first body plan with that design. As hunters today, flatworms hunt prey with their head leading the way. Flatworms are hermaphrodites: an individual flatworm is both male and female. When flatworms mate, the worm that first receives sperm, carries the fertilized eggs. They were the first animals with internal fertilization. - See more at: http://shapeoflife.org/flatworms

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        Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Eating Mussel

        A tiny camera placed inside a mussel shows how a sea star slips its stomach inside the mussel to digest the mussel’s flesh.

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        The Shape of Life | Sponge Animation: Wild Ride Through a Sponge

        Along with other microscopic organisms (dinoflagellates, diatoms, bacteria, etc.), we become a tiny particle and are pulled through the canals of a sponge. Along the way we learn that sponge cells catch food and make spicules (microscopic structures that help support the sponge’s body). We are swept into the ‘heart’ of the sponge where choanocyte cells with beating flagellae produce the current that eventually carries us out of the sponge body.

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        Molluscs: Blue-Ringed Octopus Warning Coloration

        A blue-ringed octopus has bright blue ring patterning on its body that it flashes to warn off predators. It also has a very poisonous venom.

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        Sponges: Filter Feeding Made Visible

        A florescent dye is injected next to a sponge and the sponge quickly pumps the dye through its body. This demonstrates that sponges actively pump large quantities of water through their bodies in order to extract tiny organisms for food from the water.

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        Cnidarians: Deep Sea Research

        The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute launches an expedition to explore the depths of the ocean in search of cnidarians. Scientists find that jellyfish and other cnidarians are dominant in both moderate depths and the deep parts of the ocean.

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        Annelids: Abarenicola, Burrowing Worm

        Abarenicola uses its powerful proboscis and muscles to dig burrows in the sediment on the sea floor.

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        Arthropods: Blue Crab Molting

        Arthropods’ exoskeleton must be shed or molted when they grow. This sequence shows how a blue crab must pull its legs and body out of the old shell.

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