ALIEN #17 – Phronima mom with babies inside a salp – salp is ~2cm diameter.
Wondering where Ridley Scott got his inspiration for the creatures in the movie Alien? Look no further! The Phronima surely looks like a monster, but let’s not get carried away with anthropomorphism – this look and shape has allowed them to become highly successful pirates of the sea. The mother phronima has commandeered a salp. Inside of it, she is raising about 14 babies, who are feeding off the salp as they grow. What a sweet, caring mom!!! Unless you’re the salp – then the situation is very much indeed just like in the movie Alien where its living inside and feeding off you, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it! I’m amazed by the way the babies are organized in a nearly perfect ring, and I’ve spent long hours trying to figure out why this is the case. For them to space themselves out this way seems unlikely. And I can’t imagine the mother constantly herding them into place. My only plausible theory is that the babies are not yet capable of locomotion, and the mom laid the eggs neatly around the inside ring of the salp. Either way, the phronima mom is a busy, busy girl, and has all of her hands full raising up the next generation of little murdering parasites.