Tag Archives: symbion pandora

What Little People Can Do

I’ve been thinking.

Check that: We’ve been thinking. I’ve learned that I actually don’t think very well on my own. In fact, I can’t perform the even most basic bodily functions on my own. I can’t digest a meal, or circulate my blood, or process a thought by myself. I’m not – and you’re not – wired that way. But the Creator has given me some helpers. Billions and billions of them. In fact, ten percent of my body weight is made up of the creatures living in me as life partners. They may be small, but they outnumber my “human” cells ten-to-one. They feed in me, and with me, and even on me. Without them, my body’s functions would shut down within hours.

So, whatever happened to the rugged individualist? The top-of-the-food-chain alpha guy?  It turns out there are trillions of us working together in the body we call “Me.”

So what have we been thinking? We’ve been thinking about how amazing the “little people” are – the unseen biome that makes up most of the Creation. Take this little guy: symbion pandora. Actually, pandora is only a guy sometimes; other times, he’s a she. And other times, she’s neither one. The same creature. Pandora lives one place in the world: On the lips of Norway lobsters. (I bet Haitian lobsters have some incredible little helpers too!)

Symbion pandora can change from asexual, to male, to female. Amazing!

You wondered if lobsters had lips, eh? Well they do, and Pandora attaches himself/herself/itself there, dining on the crumbs that fall from the lobster’s table.

Pandora, with her one-sex-fits-all rotation is so unusual, they had to give her a special phylum (taxonomic category just below kingdom) all her own. (“Cycliophora.” Write it down. Impress your bowling buddies!) But her discovery twenty years ago rocked the biosciences, and showed us a whole new way of being a living species.

So we’re really excited to share with you about symbion pandora and show you her picture. Pretty pretty, huh? And handsome! The trillions of little people in here think it’s high time we’ve written something about their kind. And for the proud human individualist out there, I have a trillion voices telling you to wake up to the facts – Your little people outnumber the rest of you big time. Show them some respect, okay?

J. Elwood