Friday, August 19, 2011

Ode to Decapods at Boston Children's Museum

What would you do with ten feet?

Would you walk faster? Would you invent a new decapodian dance? Would you paint the toenails on each of your feet a different color? I might do all three, in honor of the decapods we find everyday in the Fort Point Channel at the Boston Children's Museum.

Along with a whole host of other creatures, lobsters, shrimp and crabs are of the taxonomic order decapodia, which ,in Greek, means "ten-footed". As our fishing 101 group found out this summer, the lobsters and crabs that we pull up in traps there have 8 legs and 2 claws! In addition to their lovely limbs, the decapods at Boston Children's Museum have a whole host of other cool features!

My favorite characteristic of these animals is their fantastic exoskeleton. Imagine having armor on the outside and no interior bones to speak of! As invertebrates, lobsters and crabs are spineless. So why is their shell called an exoSKELETON? Hmmmm. Let's think. Our bones provide support for our bodies from the INSIDE, but an exoskeleton protects and supports a body from the OUTSIDE. The kids at BCM enjoyed feeling the hard shells of the crabs and lobsters we found.

Apart from their physical forms, the BCM decapods entertained kids and parents alike with fast moves and feisty personalities. Hundreds of kids at the museum marveled at the way crabs walked sideways, using all eight legs! The speed with which the crabs attempted to run out of the traps also impressed many entertained onlookers.

Thanks to BCM for a great week and a great summer. But we cannot forget to thank our friends the decapods for their good looks and all the entertainment they provided us with this summer!


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