Erwin Keustermans

posted by Casey Dunn / on July 26th, 2009 / in Science & Art

Erwin Keustermans wrote me a couple years ago with some questions about symmetry in animals, and how it relates to his beautiful illustrations. Since then I’ve regularly checked in on his work, and visitors to the lab often admire his postcards.


His illustrations remind me of the science I work on in a couple different ways. There is the tie-in to modular growth in colonial animals, like siphonophores. There is also the abstract likeness to graphs of gene similarity used to cluster genes in phylogenomic analyses.

Siphonophore video

posted by Casey Dunn / on July 26th, 2009 / in Jellies, Siphonophores

These siphonophore clips were put together from a series of dives by remotely operated underwater vehicles at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, with thanks to Steve Haddock. For more information on siphonophores, a group of deep-sea colonial animals, see I originally made the segment for the home page of the journal Current Biology when they published a Quick Guide on siphonophores.

This video shows three different species of siphonophore, filmed at depths of hundreds of meters off the coast of California. The first is Apolemia, which can reach more than 40 meters in length (yes, meters), making it one of the longest animals in the world. It is sitting motionless in the water with its tentacles retracted. The second is Erenna, which uses glowing lures to attract prey. The third is Chuniphyes moserae, a fast-swimming calycophoran siphonophore.