Arthropods constitute above 80% of the described living animal species on Earth. They have an exoskeleton and segmented body parts. They include insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. This discussion gives a critical view of arthropods and discusses what a large scale arthropod would look like based on the knowledge of the features of terrestrial and aquatic arthropods.
Keywords: Arthropods, arachnids, crustaceans, insects, exoskeleton, larvae
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Arthropods are invertebrates that have an exoskeleton and a segmented body. They also have jointed appendages and are grouped under the phylum Arthropoda (Hawksworth & Bull, 2006). They include insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. The jointed cuticles and limbs of the arthropods are made of chitin. Crustaceans cuticles are biomineralized with calcium carbonate. Arthropods periodically replace their rigid cuticle to give room for growth. It is done through moulting. Arthropods have their body divided into several segments. Every segment has one pair of appendages. In most environments ecological guilds, arthropods remain to be the most species-rich members. They account for over a million species that constitute above 80% of the described living animal species. Their dominance is understood to relate to their high level of versatility. The arthropods internal organs are accommodated by a hemocoel that also serves to support the circulation of their haemolymph-analogue of blood (Hawksworth & Bull, 2006).
There is a clear difference in the life cycles of marine and terrestrial arthropods. For example, based on the planktonic larvae for dispersal, adult marine arthropods are known to be sedentary or bottom-living. They produce numerous offspring to increase the chances of offsprings survival. It is because most of offsprings are eaten by other members of the plankton. On the other hand, adult terrestrial arthropods are mobile and can survive over large areas through flying. Terrestrial arthropods produce comparatively few larvae that are protected by building shelters as they grow to adulthood (Gibb & Oseto, 2006).
Insect life forms accomplish hemoglobin circulation with the use of red blood cells. The hemolymph originated from the first life in oceans. It is with hemolymph that animals began to develop into large assemblages. With hemolymph, structures could consist of cells thick. Hemolymph may be hemoglobin, but without many red blood cells, or with an absence of red blood cells and hemoglobin (Gibb & Oseto, 2006).
Ozaki et al. (2006) state that in insects, the hemocytes include white blood cells and platelets while some aquatic insects like the midges have cell containing hemoglobin. The basic clue on how and when blood and the precursors began was derived from the understanding that some hemolymph developed, hence providing a type of antifreeze for the animal.
There would be an entomologist, a hematologist, and evolutionary biologist in a hypothetical study of these affairs. At some point, all of orders of insect precursors had not only hemoglobin, but red blood cells that they lost in revisions, as they moved on to land. The insects do not require closed circulatory systems with red blood cells containing large amounts of hemoglobin. It is because they can respire through their exoskeletons directly. As invertebrates, they do not have a large nervous system (Ozaki et al., 2006).
A research on insects can reveal references to no hemoglobin presence, some hemoglobin presence, no red blood cells presence and the presence of some red blood cells. What is accepted is that insects have hemolymph and may be the only animal precursors worth studying in these lines of thoughts. It may be that the entomologists have examples lying around with code snippets in the aquatic forms.
The first animals to occupy the land and spread all over the earth were arthropods. Their successful venturing and spread are attributed to their body makeup that made it possible for them to diversify, hence adapting to any environment. They inhabited anywhere, including on air and invented crude ways of extracting oxygen from the air rather than water. Some of them live in freshwater and later develop wings through metamorphosis to take to the air. They used flight as the main adaptive characteristic in the process of opening up new realms. They have a significant value to the ecosystems and to humans. They serve as both recyclers and pollinators (Hawksworth & Bull, 2006).
Once complex life had been established on the planet in whatever mannerism, the next steps were to find out ways of exploiting the resources available on land. It was at this time that arthropods came out of the oceans to exploit the land. This is probably the first time that arthropods emerged on the scene.
When making reference to Labandiera and Sepkoski (1993), Ryder (1996) said that the substantial radiation of modern insects was hardly conditioned or facilitated by angiosperms expansion in the Cretaceous duration. It is because the radiation started 245 million years ago, while about 100 million years prior to the emergence of angiosperms in the fossil record, the main trophic machinery of insects was present.
After the insects had been well established on land, they began radiating. They dominated the land for millions of years. They had lived on land before the angiosperms took hold, so they must have exploited the gymnosperms prior to the angiosperms.
There are signs of nuclear blasts shown by Mars about 180 million years ago. If it would have been as a result of an act of an organism from Earth, it would have to be an intelligent Arthropod life form that people have hardly seen before.
In an attempt to explain the reason the red planet is red, Brandon, a scientist, mentions that chances are that a planet-shattering and a nuclear reaction might have naturally occurred, hence wiping out everything that existed on Mass. He suggests that this occurrence has sent a shockwave, hence turning the planet into dry sand. Since Anthropologists anthropomorphize everything into hominids, it is interesting to imagine an unknown arthropod hominid existing in cosmos, and that is waiting to meet humankind.
If there was intelligence development before the present ages of hominids, it would have been insectoid life: the Arthropods (Wood, Hannah & Sadler, 2007). There has not been any large Arthropod life discovered that used anything other than breathing through pours of their exoskeleton and using hemolymph. Thus, the limitations of Arthropod life are huge confining them to small forms.
Arthropods use hemolymph to circulate oxygen and remove excess carbon dioxide in an open circulatory system. The Arthropod adaptations are the spiracles that take in oxygen along their bodies by being physical holes in their exoskeletons. Some Arthropods have book lungs that function in a rudimentary way. Hemolymph, if it has hemoglobin at all, uses iron as a binding agent. The horseshoe crab is an exception that uses a copper based gas exchange, having blue colored blood. However, most animals use hemoglobin pigments for gaseous exchange, unlike the Arthropods, which may or may not use hemoglobin at all (Wood, Hannah & Sadler, 2007).
The main principles are based on the reasoning that oxygen can be bound in hemoglobin by the molecule heme. Although it is commonly understood that carbon dioxide is primarily bound through the bicarbonate ion in solution, it is possible for hemoglobin to bind it in some situations. It is because of the presence of ferrous iron in the outer center of the carbon ring structure of heme that can bind the oxygen (Wood, Hannah & Sadler, 2007).
What the arthropods do is to pump oxygenated hemolymph straight out through arteries directly into body cavities called sinuses. The return is facilitated internally through pore-like structures, whereas there are no indications of veins.
The Arthropods that do not possess the hemoglobin, take in oxygen directly through their mouth openings and spiracles along the sides of their bodies, utilizing passive air flows like ventilation systems.Due to the gas exchange limitations, as well as the present gas ratio of the atmosphere, Arthropods have been restricted in their body plans for millions of years. At one point in history, the gas ratio of the atmosphere was more conducive to the Arthropod body plan and gas exchange (Ryder, 1996).
The Arthropods use chitin as their primary structure protein and tend not to fossilize in common ways, as compared to the ossification and fossilization process of animal bone structure. Thus, the Arthropods are the stealth animals of the ancient epoch history, as their presence has been covered up in time with very little indication of their presence. There has been no indication that they existed upright hominid Arthropods exhibiting intelligence, perhaps using the copper scheme of the Horseshoe crab and the book style lungs of the Arachnids (Gibb & Oseto, 2006).
Building a hypothetical hominid Arthropod they would have book type lungs, copper pigments, and perhaps a closed circulatory system. It could be possible to combine all elements of Arthropods to come up with a blueprint of the ideal large hominid Arthropod (Gibb & Oseto, 2006).
An intriguing characteristic of the Arthropods is that at least one species uses the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy to navigate. Science researchers developed interest in determining whether beetles navigate via the stars of the Milky Way galaxy. A report by Yeld, J. published in the Independent Newspapers (January 2013) attempted to prove that dung beetles use stars to navigate.
Professor Marcus Byrne also gave a demonstration of a dung beetle at Wits University. He used a star projector to determine whether the beetles navigated via the stars. An additional study was conducted by a Wits University scientist and his research partners. The scientists published the findings of their research to confirm that the fascinating little creatures can navigate using stars. They use groups of stars in undertaking Sisyphean task, as they transport balls of dung.
Based on the findings derived from the experiments, it is clear that despite the beetles minimal computing power and tiny brains, they can use the relatively dim light of the Milky Way for orientation purposes (Gibb & Oseto, 2006).The light, in this case, is often dimmer than that provided by the sun and the moon. The first species of beetles was proven to have this ability.
To conclude, it is evident that arthropods primarily respire through pours on their exoskeletons. In the pours, hemolymph circulates through an open circulatory system from the heart into some open sinuses, thereby, apparently limiting the maximum size of their phenotype body plan. To further minimize their body plans, it appears that few insects currently utilize hemoglobin, or red blood cells, but may have done so even in the past life forms.
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