We humans have come a long way since our earliest days in the African savannah. From figuring out how to walk upright to getting the hang of tools and then becoming the planet’s dominant species, we owe it all to our ability to use our heads. But as clever as we might like to think we are, there’s something very humbling about the fact that other, far simpler species have also been successfully using their heads, albeit far more literally.

Melibe viridis is perhaps one of the simplest creatures in the sea. At only five inches long, this predatory little sea slug has made a good living by crawling across the ocean floor and sniffing out tiny scraps of food to eat such as plankton. When the sensory organs in its head come into contact with something that looks tasty, it stretches its head out to alarming proportions to reach out and scoop up the food like a living fishing net. It looks for all the world like a stretchy children’s toy, but as bizarre as it may seem, this tactic has served it in good stead. And if that wasn’t strange enough, it’s reported that Melibe viridis gives off a distinctly fruity smell thanks to a special concoction of pheromones that scientists haven’t yet been able to discover a use for.

So while developing tools, language, art, culture and higher reasoning may have worked our well for us humans, there’s still something to be said for keeping things a little more simple...

Thank you for reading this week’s edition of FIN ('Fascinating Ichthyological Nugget'): the easiest way to propel your aquatic knowledge! We sincerely hope that you'll find these of interest and want to share them with your friends!