Petymila – Five Little Fishes That Have Made A Home In Your Garden
What is Pentemporium? Is it an STD? Why does it look just like the cauliflower? Those are only a few questions that one might ask in this ongoing series about Petymila, or… PP.
Those who know the name know what the creature is. Those who don’t probably never heard of the creature remain confused as to what this crustacean really looks like. The most common description of Petymila is a small, white crustacean, and this is what most people think of when they hear the name. PP is actually an ancient Greek word meaning “little pot”.
The other common description is that it looks like a small red or brown shrimp. There are other varieties that may look like either a millipede or an ant. Each species has its own peculiarities, but each is classified by the way in which the segments fall off the body. As mentioned above, each Petymila has an exoskeleton that can be clearly seen when the body is fully intact. However, because most of these creatures are completely meatless (they regenerate tissue), the segments can be difficult to see.
What kind of animal would produce such a beautiful, if unusual living creature? Those who have seen givebacks in their natural habitats believe that these creatures belong to a class of crustaceans called “proboscideans”. This group includes such sea animals as oysters, clams, sponges and others. Perhaps the most amazing fact about these creatures is that many givebacks are actually members of their family.
In spite of being classified as a crustacean, there is no hard proof that they actually come from a solid material. Most scientists agree that it is more likely that they are “genetically modified” after eating a foreign organism that had DNA that was completely different from their own. Because they are so closely related to humans (and other vertebrates), some scientists are even speculating that Petymila could have been the first vertebrate ever to survive on earth. The theory is that their development was helped by humans, and that their evolution ultimately lead to the appearance of all vertebrates. They may very well have been eaten by prehistoric man as well!
So what is Petymila like? Like other armadillos, these animals are small, with average sizes ranging between three and five inches. Their coloration ranges from gray, brown and black, although this changes based on the season. Some are known to be green in the summer. Most of them feed on algae, which makes them a threat to many marine eco-systems.