Similarly, “the living rock” must be a bizarre name that shocks many, but to our astonishment, it exists. It looks like straight out of a movie about aliens! It resembles a peculiar rock with intestinal organs.
Even more, the article encompasses one of the craziest things that you might have seen — The Living Rock. By the same token, the discovery of this alien rock grabbed attention worldwide. You would not believe what secrets are hiding in this strange rock!
THE WONDERS OF THE LIVING ROCK
What is a living rock?
The living rock creatures are bizarre creatures that reside off the coast of Chile and Peru.
This sea creature called Pyura chilensis resembles a rock. They are famous for being probably one of the edible delicacies with self-reproduction abilities.
This species stores chemical compounds which makes it a subject to stern observation and research.
Species belonging to the subphylum tunicates have their medicinal and regenerative properties. We believe that the species holds the key to the mysteries of regeneration.
KNOW MORE ABOUT THE LIVING ROCK
Before we dive deeper, let us know a bit more about its origin.
What Are Tunicates?
Tunicates are aquatic invertebrates belonging to the subphylum Tunicata. It elaborately belongs to the phylum Chordata. It means that species like Pyura chilensis are consist of dorsal nerve cords and notochords. They are native to this Tunicates.
These filter feeders with liquid sac-like structure have two siphons connecting to their digestive tract. These filters act as a mouth that helps them in feeding apart from respiration.
Most mature tunicates like the P. chilensis are sessile and permanently attach to hard surfaces right after the adolescence period. Some other species of tunicates are locomotives and swim around the sea’s pelagic zone as mature tunicates.
Ascidians self-reproduce in most of their life cycle. A phenomenon also known as true hermaphroditism.
They have both the female sex organs known as the ovaries and the male sex organs known as the testis. It is present near the gut or on the body wall. Some species like Pyura chilensis release the sperms and the eggs which collide to form fertile clouds.
The larvae produced are planktonic in nature. In other species where sexual reproduction occurs, the sperms from the male sex organs release into the water. They instigate the sexual reproductive cycle by drawing into the atria of different species.
After fertilization, the progeny of the sessile species finds hard suitable places for settlement. And miraculously it attaches itself there for the rest of its life.
Tunicates are undoubtedly one of a kind. Species like Pyura Chilensis have a unique reproductive cycle. In coastal countries of Chile and Peru, species like Pyura chilensis is a delicacy. Harvesting is a commercial ritual on a large scale.
Tunicates heal their cellular defects. It indicates that these species hold the key to the mysteries of regeneration. We are hoping that similar regenerative processes that possible in tunicates if they work for humans.
The secret behind this surprising regeneration has turned heads worldwide. The mechanism behind the regenerative capabilities might hold the answers. These would pave the way for the regeneration of limbs and such in human beings as well.
Tunicates are a storehouse of many chemical compounds that have a high economic value. This includes:
- Didemnin: They are cyclic depsipeptide compounds present in tunicates. They use it during the treatment of cancer and other heterogeneous fields of medicinal science. We can handle it against antivirals and immunosuppressants.
- Aplidine: Aplidine, a chemical compound extracted from an ascidian type known as Aplidium albicans. In tunicates, we obtain Plitidepsin or Aplidine for medicinal purposes is a range of didemnins are the treatment of cancer.
- Trabectedin: Trabectedine is another chemical that has its medicinal values. It is a variant of didemnin, which is also useful in treating cancer and especially in ovarian cancer.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT THE LIVING ROCK
Pyura chilensis, or natively known as “The Piure,” was first mentioned by Juan Ignacio Molina, a Chilean abbot. Written in his book when he walked out of Chile. He wrote about how this living rock sea creature was a significant form of sustenance. Not only for him but for the other missionaries who escaped beside him.
The piure is a living rock animal with a tunicate. A marine invertebrate belonging to the phylum Chordata and subphylum Tunicata. It resembles a representation of a living animal with a conglomeration of organs inside a rock.
They are predominantly native to the dense amassment of intertidal and subtidal coasts of Peru and Chile, respectively.
Apart from this, Pyura chilensis undoubtedly is unique due to its other staggering characteristics.
The piure has a very peculiar characteristic when it comes to its eating habits. The mode of nutrition seems to be suspension feeding. The piure or sea squirts feed through filtering.
In simpler terms, these creatures filter seawater by inhaling the surrounding seawater and filter the algae and microorganisms from it.
Elaborately, this living rock sea creature consists of two siphons. The tunicin in these siphons connects the animal to the environment. Tunicin is a type of cellulose abundant in animals and the tunics of tunicata.
These siphons act as the medium of inhalation and exhalation. The piure inhales the water filtering the edible microalgae out with the aid of a mucosal sheath. This sheath is present in its enlarged pharynx. And known as the branchial sac before exhaling the seawater out of the siphon.
The enlarged pharynx connects to the digestive tract. It also serves as its mouth, which helps this living rock to feed.
Although, the anatomy of Pyura chilensis is undoubtedly a bizarre one. It consists of a notochord and a perforated pharynx which are native to the phylum Chordata. Tunicin, a tunic-like substance sheathing this living rock.
Also, these living rocks use for sheath a tunic-like substance, we know it as tunicin. A strong array of molecules which allows these living rocks to affix themselves onto hard surfaces in the sea. This sheath or the tunic holds epidermis and a muscular band on the inside. This layer cloaks the central part of this living rock animal.
Pyura chilensis is undoubtedly the “Pandora’s box” of mysteries. Their clear blood stores a rare element known as “vanadium.”
Vanadium is a hard, silver-grey malleable metal that occurs naturally. They have the highest concentration of Vanadium than of the surrounding water in the sea.
This living rock or the piure or Pyura chilensis is probably one of the only delicacies which can self reproduce.
At the initial developmental stages, the P. chilensis is born male. When it hits adolescence, it transforms into a co-sexual creature. This means that the piure has both the female and male sex organs during its adolescence stage.
Additionally, if piure finds a suitable environment to breed and have other individuals around, it reproduces via cross-fertilization.
Furthermore, metamorphosis followed cross-fertilization. It was one of the most effective ways of reproduction as compared to self-fertilization.
In the later period, proof of this theory took place when specimen P. chilensis stayed into isolation. It took two months to produce successful progeny offspring. This mode of reproduction is true hermaphroditism.
Self-reproduction is much more effective when these hermaphrodites are alone at sea without a partner to produce progeny. The P. chilensis prevents itself from going extinct using this adaptation technique.
During the breeding season, they use a tremendous magical thing. If this living rock is unable to find a partner, then it produces with both of its reproductive organs.
First, it releases eggs from the ovary and then releases sperm from the male sex organs. Then, the zygote fertilizes and forms externally.
The sperms and eggs from the piure produce a fertile cloud that gives birth to tadpole-like progenies.
These released progenies are male and have a tadpole-like appearance. These male tadpoles have the ability to locomotion. And they seek suitable hard places and settle in and prepare for the reproductive cycle to start over again.
Pyura chilensis or the piure is a living rock sea creature with high commercial or economic importance. Though an outlandish delicacy, its heavy cultivation takes place on the banks of Chilean coasts.
This living rock also serves as a significant food for other species like Concholepas concholepas or the Chilean abalone. Although, this species has inhibited the growth of P. chilensis for two long decades. It has threatened the further yield of these fantastic creatures.
They harvest near these seashores. But sometimes, the fishermen go far and wide into the sea to gather more of the products. This dish has been a staple dish in the coastal zones of Chile and Peru.
The fishermen slice them open, pull out both of the siphons from the carapace and dispose of them. They sell it fresh or dehydrated in strips and in a can.
This staple delicacy boosts the economy of these living rock animal producing countries. Countries like Sweden (32.5% of exports), Japan (24.2% of the shipping), and so on are living with the living rocks.
Apart from this, this living rock sea creature stores rare material called vanadium. Vanadium contributes heavily to making metal products.
One of excellence is the ability to regenerate. In view of the level of regeneration has sparked an enormous research trend encompassing these species.
PYURA CHILENSIS AS A CUISINE
Countries like Chile and Peru are harvesting these commercially since they are abundant in these areas. In such a case, locals enjoy this sea creature as a native delicacy.
The locals consumed this delicacy by cooking or eating them raw. These living rocks taste slightly bitter and soapy like those of a sea urchin.
One way of cooking is by chopping it into small slices and seasoning it with diced onion, cilantro, and lemon. Many dishes considered this as its central element. It is by mincing and boiling its meat-like arroz con piure picado, or “rice with diced piure.”
Pyura chilensis is a living rock animal that we have very little information about. A lot of research has emerged encompassing this species. Its sudden exposure to the food world has raised a lot of concerns.
Alongside, living rock poses a threat to safety. At the same time, despite a delicacy and served by many restaurants worldwide.
Daily consumption in an uncontrolled manner can be the cause of severe health issues like liver damage.
Pyura. chilensis is undoubtedly a wonder of nature. This living rock sea creature has built its reputation on a global scale. And not only as a delicate cuisine but also as a medicinal hub. But also because it contains chemical compounds like vanadium, used to make metal instruments.
On the contrary, other compounds found in this species and subphylum can create medicine used in the treatment of cancer. Unlike the other bizarre sea creature ratfish that live in the deep sea, this creature thrives on the coasts of Chile and Peru, feeding on algae and microorganisms.
Besides, they surely won’t recognize them at first sight. Because they resemble the shape of the rock. As soon as you slice them with a hand saw, you will see gut-like innards, sure to creep you out.
Sharing the remains of the earth and fostering its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.
Nature is a bountiful gift. Its wonders never cease. As WE DIVE deeper into the unknown mysteries of life, we surprise OURSELVES every time