Exploring the specimens of any Invertebrate collection you are sure to find some peculiar animals, the Peabody is no different. With so many weird and wonderful specimens to choose from, I could be here all day. To prevent a long rambling article I have selected just seven to share. So here they are, the Seven Wonders of the (Yale Invertebrate) World.
The impressive bristles of this Amphinomidae specimen from the 1958 Yale Seychelles Expedition are mineralized chaetae. Som worms in this family have a neurotoxin in their bristles that they eject when touched. The neurotoxin causes a burning sensation which has led to this fiery family being called the Fire Worms.
2. Mantis Shrimp Model
This Squilla empusa model was made by museum preparator George Rennie. It reanimates the Mantis Shrimp’s colored body armor. The Mantis Shrimp is named so thanks to its enlarged second appendages that look like the forelimbs of the insect, the Praying Mantis. This isn’t the only model that George Rennie has helped create. He has made several invertebrate zoology and invertebrate paleontology models for the Peabody, including the giant squid that hangs in the museum entrance.
3. Architeuthis dux (giant squid) arm
The Architeuthis dux (giant squid) model that hangs in the Peabody’s entrance is based off a real squid that washed ashore in Newfoundland. To make this model in the 1960’s, accurate measurements were taken from the Newfoundland specimen. Over the years a tentacled arm or two from this specimen have made their way to New Haven were they are now stored in the Invertebrate Zoology Collection. The rest of the squid remains at Memorial University in Newfoundland.
When I saw this photo, I thought, surely this is from a Sci-Fi movie? My initial assumption was wrong, Cirroctopus is a southern hemisphere, deep sea octopus. However, it’s broad, lobe-like, flared wings, deep extending web and heavy musculature does make it look eerily alien-like. This Peabody specimen was collected from the Southern Ocean, just off of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2009, so I guess it more a monster of the deep than a visitor from outer space.
5. and 6. Asteroschema and Paragorgia johnsoni
Interactions of the deep sea captured in the collection: This specimen shows how the brittle star, Asteroschema, has wrapped itself around the soft coral, Paragorgia johnsoni. Paragorgia johnsoni is also known as Johnsons Bubblegum coral thanks to its bright pink hue.
7. Gorgonocephalus arcticus
The name of the ophiuroid genus, Gorgoncephalus, pays homage to the serpent haired Gorgons of Greek myth. The branched and curled arms of Gorgoncephalus look similar to a head of coiled snakes. For those of you hoping to be turned to stone, sorry to disappoint, this Gorgonocephalus arcticus specimen is not from ancient Greece, rather it was collected by Addison Verrill from Chatham, Massachusetts.