As a follow-up to my first post about sea hares, here are seven cool sea hare facts:
1. Large wing-like flaps protect the gills and some species of sea hares use these flaps for swimming, duo-purpose wing-like flaps in those cases.
2. The two tentacle-like extensions on the top of the head that stick up like rabbit ears are called rhinophores, which means nose-bearing, and are used for detecting chemicals.
3. Sea hares are hermaphroditic, each animal is both male and female.
4. To facilitate mating, sea hares form a circle and then each animal inseminates the one in front. This group sex event has been dubbed a “Roman circle.”
5. A single sea hare can lay up to 500 million eggs during one breeding season.
6. Sea hares produce purple ink as a defense mechanism; this ink was used by Native Americans to dye clothing.
7. Biomedical researchers use the sea hare’s very simple nervous system as a model for other more complicated species. The neurophysiology of sea hares is being used in cancer research and sea hare sex hormones are providing clues to understanding more about human development. Who knew?