sea squirt

sea squirt
any tunicate, esp. a sessile ascidian, so called from its habit of contracting its body and ejecting streams of water when disturbed.

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Any tunicate in the class Ascidiacea; found in seas worldwide.

Resembling potatoes more than animals, they are permanently fixed to a surface. A forceful contraction of the adult's vaselike body shoots a jet of seawater when it is disturbed. They filter-feed near the shore on debris from dead plants and animals and, in deeper water, on plankton. Adults, from less than 1 in. to 1 ft (2–30 cm) long, have functional male and female reproductive organs. The free-swimming, tadpolelike larvae hatch from eggs shed by one individual and fertilized by another. Some species live individually, others in colonies.

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also called  ascidian 

      any member of the invertebrate class Ascidiacea (subphylum Urochordata, also called Tunicata), marine animals with some primitive vertebrate features. Sea squirts are sessile (that is, permanently fixed to a surface), potato-shaped organisms found in all seas; they are found from the intertidal zone to the greatest depths. Sea squirts commonly reside on pier pilings, ships' hulls, rocks, large seashells, and the backs of large crabs. Some species live individually; others live in groups or colonies.

      The body has an outer protective covering, the tunic. There are two large pores, one to guide water into the body cavity, the other serving as an exit. Water is propelled through the animal by pharyngeal cilia. Food and oxygen are taken from the water current as water passes through gill slits in the pharynx. Near the shore, debris from dead plants and animals constitutes an important part of the diet; in deeper water, plankton (microscopic plants and animals) is a more important food.

      Although all adults are simultaneous hermaphrodites (that is, they possess both functional male and female reproductive organs), eggs shed into the water are fertilized by sperm from other individuals. The tadpole-like larvae are free-swimming. The muscular tail contains a notochord (a flexible, rodlike structure common to all vertebrates) and a nerve cord. When the larva finds a place to metamorphose, it attaches itself by a sucker located at the anterior end of the body. Later, the tail, with its notochord and nerve cord, is absorbed and disappears.

      Reproduction also occurs by budding: near the base of the sea squirt fingerlike projections (stolons) break off and settle elsewhere to become new individuals.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sea squirt — (Zo[ o]l.) An ascidian. See Illust. under {Tunicata}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sea squirt — sea′ squirt n. ivt any of several attached tunicates of the class Ascidiacea, that, on contraction, eject a stream of water • Etymology: 1840–50 …   From formal English to slang

  • sea squirt — n. ASCIDIAN …   English World dictionary

  • sea squirt — noun ascidian that can contract its body and eject streams of water • Hypernyms: ↑ascidian * * * noun Etymology: so called from its habit of contracting and squirting out water when disturbed : a simple ascidian * * * any tunicate, esp. a sessile …   Useful english dictionary

  • sea squirt — noun Date: 1850 ascidian …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sea squirt — noun Any sessile tunicate, of the class Ascidiacea, which squirts water from two openings when touched; they are filter feeders Syn: cunji …   Wiktionary

  • sea squirt — noun a marine tunicate which has a bag like body with orifices through which water flows into and out of a central pharynx. [Class Ascidiacea.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • sea squirt — /ˈsi skwɜt/ (say see skwert) noun 1. an ascidian; tunicate. 2. → cunjevoi1 (def. 1) …  

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  • Sea pineapple — Taxobox name = Sea pineapple image width = 250px regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata subphylum = Urochordata classis = Ascidiacea ordo = Pleurogona subordo = Stolidobranchia familia = Pyuridae genus = Halocynthia species = H. roretzi binomial =… …   Wikipedia

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