1. #1 Physicalist
    March 30, 2009

    Is that the one that swims in a beautiful-crazy way?

  2. #2 jon
    March 30, 2009

    Reminds me of a guy at my undergrad with an orange mohawk.

    Now that I think about it that metazoan has horns too,
    it must be teh debbil!

  3. #3 Marcus B.
    March 30, 2009

    These are beautiful, and reminds me of a conversation I had with a creationist friend recently. We were looking at pictures of some similar creature, that was similarly beautiful, and she told me that this should make me realize that I’m a damned (quite literally damned, I suppose) fool. She said that such beauty is very obviously proof of a good and benevolent designer; the same exact argument we’ve seen many times.

    I couldn’t resist responding with something short about all the ugly things in the world; in particular I talked about animals who can only survive by killing other animals in quite gruesome ways, horrible diseases and stuff like that. And I asked her if that is also proof of her wonderful designer.

    She wasn’t deterred by that at all. She just looked at me and said “Why are you so negative? Why do you concentrate on just the bad things?”

    I never really got her to understand why I think it’s infuriating that she prefers to base her judgments on an idealized subset of reality, when any fool can see that not everything fits in with her view on things. She seemed to honestly think that the fact that I want to look at all of reality (as much as humanly possible that is) is just an example of me being a negative person.

  4. #4 The Atheist Jew
    March 30, 2009

    Where is the Family Guy post already? I put the video up on my site. Better hurry up and watch it before Youtube takes it down.

    Best line:
    Mayor Adam West gives reaction to the fact that an atheist (Brian) lives in Quahog “Arrr shocking to say the least. I’d rather have a terrorist living in our midst. At least they believe in a God. Even if its a SMELLY BROWN GOD.” :

  5. #5 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    March 30, 2009


  6. #6 Physicalist
    March 30, 2009

    It is the prettily swimming slug I was thinking of.

  7. #7 Sven DiMilo
    March 30, 2009

    More molluscan Monday metazoa, Mary?

  8. #8 Eric the half-bee
    March 30, 2009

    Tch. Tacky.

    Nudibranchs (is that what it is?) are really all over the map in terms of taste. Some are delicate and refined and some are just over the top. This one? Well…

  9. #9 Epinephrine
    March 30, 2009

    Marcus – you should ask your friend if it’s also beautiful that these creatures can eat cnidarians and recycle the nematocysts by migrating them through their bodies to the fronds, to act as a defensive mechanism.

    I find it a little creepy (though fascinating), and the thought of a “loving god” deliberately designing a creature to tear apart another creature and harvest the body parts as its natural defense system seems weird. Certianly not, “all things bright and beautiful,” a little more along the lines of, “nature, red in tooth and claw.”

  10. #10 Ash
    March 30, 2009

    BTW, I think that that little pink beady string it’s bent over is an egg mass.

  11. #11 CS
    March 30, 2009

    Nudibranchs are absolutely stunning, but to me there’s something absolutely creepy about them. I can totally see them being the inspiration behind a Saturday afternoon SciFi Channel movie, adapting to life on land, growing large as cows, and engulfing people.

  12. #12 recovering catholic
    March 30, 2009

    Why is it every time I see a gorgeous animal like this I want it on a t-shirt?

    Thanks, Mary and PZ, for starting out Mondays with these beautiful photos!

  13. #13 Mike Weatherby
    March 30, 2009

    Yes, nudibranchs are one of my favorite groups of animals. They are so Alien yet bring color to a rather muted undersea world of our North West. I would elect our Hooded Nudibranch as the best SciFi character.

  14. #14 CS
    March 30, 2009

    A possible nudibranch appearance in a SciFi movie reminds me of the scene in Peter Jackson’s King Kong where the chef gets eaten head first. Oh, that sequence gave me the willies.

  15. #15 scott
    March 30, 2009

    lets not forget that beautiful sponge behind the showy (some would say “gaudy”) slug

  16. #16 Dark Matter
    March 30, 2009

    Why, Miss Finch, you’re beautiful!

  17. #17 Culinary Rorschach
    March 30, 2009

    A Mexican floral inclusion gelatin dessert featuring Chrysanthemums and moss?

  18. #18 Patricia, OM
    March 30, 2009

    Beautiful! Inspires me to go look for some yarn dyed in those colors. Now the bid decision – sox or hat?
    Thanks Mary!

  19. #19 Beth B.
    March 30, 2009

    Gorgeous! And fittingly enough, I just saw one of these for the first time at a local aquarium this weekend. Even more beautiful in person!

  20. #20 Sniper
    March 30, 2009

    This is so gorgeous! Patricia, OM,, if you’re really good, you could maybe make a little toy nudibranch. How cool would it be to get one of those for a gift?

    Otherwise, hat.

  21. #21 Zotnix
    March 30, 2009

    It seems to me that life under the ocean is way cooler than on land. There just seems to be so much weird variance. This could just be the fact I stare at land animals all day and they’ve lost their luster.

    Deep sea creatures are the best, though.

    Sadly, I can’t even tell which way is “up” on this one.

  22. #22 Epinephrine
    March 30, 2009

    Sadly, I can’t even tell which way is “up” on this one.

    Dorsal surface has the orange fronds (cerata).

  23. #23 AmyD
    March 30, 2009

    Patricia! A fellow yarnaholic?! Yay!

  24. #24 Stanton
    March 30, 2009

    My favorite sea slug.

  25. #25 Sili
    March 30, 2009

    Read. My. Lips:


    Damn. I’m starting to suspect Mary doesn’t like me or summat.

  26. #26 Madhu
    March 30, 2009

    So that’s what it was! A Spanish Shawl, I saw lurking (in as much as a bright purple thing like that can be said to lurk) in a tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium last friday. I couldn’t find any identification listed there, and wondered what it was. I did manage to get a decent enough picture of it considering where it was. Thanks for helping with the ID PZ!

  27. #27 Steve Reuland
    March 30, 2009

    Why does every metazoan have to be a mollusk? Why do you have against the other phyla? We arthropodaphiles want some hot decapod on decapod action.

  28. #28 Sniper
    March 30, 2009

    Whoa. It turns out you can get a nudibranch crochet pattern at This is why I love the intertubes.

  29. #29 Nile
    March 30, 2009

    What an astonishing creature! I doubt that anyone ever painted one, with or without the aid of mind-expanding drugs, without actually having seen one.

    Speaking as a dilettante artist, I would say that the chaotic* processes of natural selection often produces oddities that no human can invent or even imagine.

    But we can, however, understand them using the tools of evidence and reason.

    I wonder if there is a valid critique of deists, based on the premise that explicable but chaotic processes continually confound the ordered model of the universe that comes from commanding The Faithful to believe an interpretation of a fixed scripture…

    Despite all the theological fluff, and the endless human ability to invent ‘epicycles’ of elaborately spurious explanation, the deist outlook is fundamentally limited and, while natural phenomena follow well-defined laws, they continually produce unimaginable oddities like the multicoloured sea-slug Flabellina iodinea.

    Any takers?

    *Chaotic. But not random. There’s a difference, and it would be useful to have simple arguments and examples to hand in order to confound the sophistry and word-games of creationists.

  30. #30 HLKing
    March 31, 2009

    I keep planning to paint some Nudibranch’s – I find them facinating, and the colours are gorgeous! This is a great shot ^^

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