On the Air: November 23, 2014
Dunes on the coast of Peru. Credit: USGS

For thousands of years, the people on the coast of what is now northern Peru lived by harvesting the bounty of the Pacific Ocean. They gathered shellfish, and left big piles of shells and other debris on the beach. Those piles helped anchor long, sandy ridges on the beach against the wind and waves, so some of the ridges are still in place today.

In Print: November 1, 2014
An ocean dandelion is made of of many individual animals cooperatiing. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Fields of dandelions are a familiar sight each spring, but another kind of dandelion is so rare that scientists are just beginning to learn more about it – the ocean dandelion.

Living in the deepest parts of the sea, the ocean dandelion is not a plant, yet it’s not exactly a single animal either. Rather, the ocean dandelion is a siphonophore, a unique type of organism composed of many smaller animals that together form a colony. The individual animals, known as zooids, are the “petals” of the ocean dandelion.