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Photo Essay
Under Antarctic Ice
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 ©2003 Norbert Wu/

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Most pycnogonids or sea spiders are just 1-10mm long, but in Antarctica, they can grow to the size of a human hand. In the extreme cold, where metabolisms are slow and there are relatively few predators, many invertebrates grow exceptionally large and live years longer than similar species in warmer waters.

Many of the 1,000 or so pycnogonid species worldwide feed on encrusting animals such as corals, anemones, bryozoans, and sponges. Their bodies are miniscule, and their gut and reproductive organs extend almost to the tip of each limb.

--Norbert Wu