Deep-Sea Pokemon

SCIENCE

Meet the adorable “sea bunny” taking over the internet. What is it? Why is it so cute? (Nat Geo News)

Cut to the chase—vote for the cutest animals in these Nat Geo Kids polls!

Teachers, scroll down for a list of quick-and-cute resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Note: Current Event Connections is slowing down for the summer. Our column will continue to appear once or twice a week until mid-August. If you have an idea for a Current Event Connection, a recommendation for a good read, or want to share one of your MapMaker Interactive maps, let us know in the comments!

Discussion Ideas

  • Read the Nat Geo News article and watch the terrific video above. What are “sea bunnies”?
    • Sea bunnies are a type of sea slug called a nudibranch.
      • The word “nudibranch” combines two ancient words: nudus and brankhia. The Latin word nudus means nude or naked, and the Greek word brankhia means gills. Like many sea creatures, nudibranchs need gills to breathe, and a nudibranch’s gills are not inside its body—the gills are exposed and naked right there on the cute little gastropod’s behind.
      • Take a look at this gorgeous Nat Geo photo gallery of nudibranchs.

 

Most sea bunnies (Jorunna parva) are this yellowish color. Photograph by John Turnbull, courtesy Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Most sea bunnies (Jorunna parva) are this yellowish color.
Photograph by John Turnbull, courtesy Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

  • How do those ears help sea bunnies hear on the seafloor?
    • Those aren’t ears! Those are rhinophores. Rhinophores are organs that help the nudibranch “smell.” Rhinophores detect chemicals in the environment, helping the animal decide whether to pursue a mate, flee a predator, or attack a prey species.

 

  • Why do sea bunnies shake their little tail?
    • That isn’t a tail! That little “tail,” called a branchial plume, is the nudibranch’s gills. As water moves over the plume, the nudibranch “breathes.”

 

 

  • Why are sea bunnies so cute?
    • They look like babies—soft, small, round, and big-headed. Watch this video for a great overview of the evolutionary adaptation of cuteness.

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: Meet the Adorable “Sea Bunny” Taking Over the Internet

Nat Geo: 125 Cute Animals (scroll down to sound off in cuteness polls!)

Nat Geo: Nudibranchs photo gallery

Public Art Fund: Yellow Elephant Underwear

Vsauce: Why are Things Cute?

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