Tag Archives: Anatomy

Starfish Anus, Sea-Star Butt

During a hectic visit to the California Academy Of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, I took this picture of my sister petting a starfish –excuse me, a sea star. (The Steinhart Aquarium –the aquatic section of the Academy– exhibits a tide pool where animals are available for gentle handling.)  Only later in the day did I inform my sister that she had been fondling the sea-star’s anus.  She asked my why I hadn’t informed her at the time.  I suppose I just assumed everyone knows basic sea-star anatomy –that the anus is dorsally located, at the center of the disc. She wasn’t too perturbed. No harm done.  But a good reason not to forget the hand sanitizer.  And it does go to show that invertebrates are not given their due.

Just an afterthought, but I think Starfish Anus would be an excellent name for a rock band.

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Filed under Biology

The Montauk Monster Eats Human Brains For Lunch

It looks like the mystery of the Montauk Monster is solved. It’s a decomposing raccoon with missing teeth and missing fur. But what’s fascinating about the story of the monster is that it inspired such imaginative stories and outrageous speculation.

What is it in our human minds that makes us choose the unknown over the known. Why do some of us reject reasonable explanations for fantastical ones? For example, the media and the public automatically assumed the creature washed up on the beach, that it had an aquatic origin, not a terrestrial one. Which one is more reasonable? It’s clearly a mammal. And raccoons do love the seashore and seafood.

And minds leaped to the conclusion that the Montauk Monster was a creature completely unknown to science. Why didn’t the same minds consider the possibility that the “creature” was just unknown to them, and not to science. Not all of us are experts on anatomy and the decay of animal remains. Why can’t we just admit ignorance, instead of grasping at straws?

When a reasonable explanation isn’t immediately available our minds seem to reach for the stars.

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Filed under Skepticism