Reefs Unleashed

SAME OR DIFFERENT?

Once they assign organisms to groups like you just did, scientists then try to figure out if the organisms they are looking at are already known or described at the species level. They do this by comparing physical, or morphological, characteristics for similarities and differences to known species. In this activity, you'll be asked to compare two tunicates and two bryozoans from the ARMS plate from Bali.

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Tunicates: SAME or DIFFERENT SPECIES?

Look closely at the physical characteristics of the two tunicates. Use a piece of paper or your FIELD BOOK to take note of shape, size, color, texture, and any other special features. Then write and explain your hypothesis. SAME or DIFFERENT SPECIES?

Tunicate A
Tunicate B

Bryozoans: SAME or DIFFERENT SPECIES?

Look closely at the physical characteristics of the two tunicates. Use a piece of paper or your FIELD BOOK to take note of shape, size, color, texture, and any other special features. Then write and explain your hypothesis. SAME or DIFFERENT SPECIES?

Bryozoan A
Bryozoan B

Have you made your hypotheses? The truth is, there is so much diversity of life in the reef that many of these organisms are unknown to scientists. Even the experts cannot always tell if two organisms are the same or different species. Two very different-looking organisms could be the same species but just at different life stages, for example. The best way to know for sure is through DNA analysis.

Continue to "Uncover DNA Secrets" to find out what DNA tells us about these four organisms.

Cristina Castillo, Research Technician, National Museum of Natural History

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