Critter Profile: Davy Bones!
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Critter Profile: Davy Bones!

Overview!

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Name: Davy Bones

Species: Hybrid of Anoplogaster cornuta (common fangtooth) and Dunkleosteus (D. terrelli)

Primary Caretaker: Aquatics Team, Elizabeth Crane

Diet: Carbon dioxide and some sunlight

Housed: Wilson Wildlife Center, Enclosure 59

Creature Features!

At first you may ask, 'Bessy Crane, WHY do we have a decomposing skeleton in our fish tank?!' But look a little closer, 'cause this here's one of our little critters! Davy Bones (as we have lovingly named him) is unlike your normal fish, he's the skeleton of a fish!

This little fella's been lurking in the dark depths of the ocean for a very long time, because the guy's got a striking resemblance to the extinct dunkleosteus; but, upon further research, he also has the size and fangs of the common fangtooth! We're unsure of how this happened, but we suspect that our special boy went through evolution a long time ago and branched off from his dunkle-parents. We also think that he may be a very, very, VEEERYYY old ancestor of the fangtooth, carrying some of their most noticeable traits (the fangs, another name for teeth! Now, who d'ya think came up with that smart one?). This is exciting, because that may mean there are more specimens like him!

But what is spectacular about Davy Bones is that Davy isn't the skeleton, but the algae CONTROLLING the skeleton! It seems that Davy has a single muscle attached to his ribs, and on it is a black, infesteous algae which connects to his spine. Basically, it's the powerhouse of REALLY big cell (that's a science joke for all our brainiacs out there!).

History!

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Davy wouldn't stay still after the first picture, so our lovely researcher Taisha drew him! (She said she couldn't get his stomach algae right, so she left it out altogether).


We were exploring the area near the Mariana Trench in the Pacific when we first spotted Davy, lazily floating up to us in our little submarine (unfortunately, not yellow)! By that time we were about 3500m deep, and it was starting to get dark. Davy shocked us at first with his sudden greeting and appearance but as we calmed down, he seemed to want us to follow him! Goes to show that our boy is very intelligent.

We went deeper and deeper until we found what seemed to be the bottom. You should've seen our faces when we saw a whole variety of fish skeletons! Whales, sharks, eels, you name it! All shapes and sizes, being slowly travelled onto by a little underwater fungi (which we later learned was the algae).
I think I even saw a human skull, and big bone buildings going even deeper down, but I must've been so happy about Davy Bones' discovery that the dark could've been playing tricks with my eyes. The dark can fool you like that. I mean, a bone kingdom? Get real!

As we went back up, I looked back at Davy Bones, and he was just following us!
He followed us all the way back up to the shallows, practically hitting the submarine trying to get it to open. How charming! We love a go-getter.
Ever since then, we've been looking more into the area and the algae itself, and Davy Bones has been having an amazing time at our center!

Special Needs and Accommodations!

Running on algae, all Davy Bones needs is attention and the occasional patch of waste litter to feed off of.
Davy himself is very affectionate, but must be handled carefully since he is millions of years old (and a skeleton), meaning he is very fragile! It is best to NOT touch his stomach muscle or surrounding algae, as this could cause him a great deal of pain or trauma. A happy fish is a healthy fish!
He's not too fussy about where he stays, as long as it's dark and quiet.

Notes about Davy Bones!

Recently I've been looking into that parasite that seems to infect and control ants, as it's very interesting to me personally, and made a connection to Davy and his wonderful Bones! I thought that it definitely is similar, except it's under the sea, and with bones!
We DID show Davy's algae to our brainy biologists of the team, who agree, yea, we COULD try this out to see if it works with other bones.

March 7th, 2016: We put the algae on a preserved herring skeleton, to which it flailed around at first and then stopped. We agreed that, of course, it has to have time to connect naturally! So we put on our hats and coats and quit testing in case it hurt Davy Bones anymore, even if he seems very eager to get us to pick him up. It may be poisonous to us, so we can't let it get on our skin!
Even still, mistakes happen! A splash of the odd algae happened to fall onto my fellow researcher Morgan's arm while he was sprinkling some food into Davy's tank. Morgan described it as 'sticky, and it gives ya some sort of tingle…better get this off before it spreads or something'. This is why you gotta be careful when working with animals!

Although, it does make me curious about what I think were human skeletons on the ocean floor that day. There's no way that I was seeing swimming human skeletons. How would they get that deep? Unless some fishy friends bigger than Davy Bones were able to open submarines… Some people like to think with how vast our universe is, there's no darn way that we're the only civilisation in our solar system. But what if those other people were not above us, in space, but below us?

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