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Posted Thu May 21 2009: from The Economist:
Thaliaceans and the carbon cycle
The thaliacean graveyard off Côte d'Ivoire came as a surprise because not much was known at the time about what happens to animals with gelatinous bodies, whether chordates or jellyfish, after they have died. And it set Mr Lebrato and Dr Jones thinking, because if thaliaceans are falling to the bottom of the sea in large numbers, they might be taking a lot of carbon with them. Until then gelatinous animals had largely been ignored by researchers studying the carbon cycle (the way that element moves through land, sea, air and living creatures) because gelatinous bodies were thought to contain a lot of water and thus relatively little carbon. However, as Mr Lebrato and Dr Jones report in Limnology and Oceanography, when they analysed thaliacean tissues they found that the creatures were one-third carbon by weight. That was much more than they expected. Jellyfish, by comparison, are 10 percent carbon, and diatoms (single-celled algae that are common in plankton) 20 percent. It also helps explain why thaliaceans are so dense—and thus sink so quickly after they die.... Even if the carbon is not permanently buried, the lack of mixing between deep and shallow water in the ocean means that it is likely to stay down there for a long time—something that will have to be added to computer models of how the climate works. The carbon cycle has thus acquired another epicycle, and become even more complicated to understand than it was.
[Read more stories about: carbon sinks]

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'Doc Jim says:
It's clear that the thaliaceans have not been doing their jobs!

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