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The incredible biodiversity of Aquaman’s variant cover

Aquaman #31 variant cover. Art by Mike Allred.

Aquaman #31 variant cover. Art by Mike Allred.

Aquaman. Wow. Artist Mike Allred has seriously outdone himself with this incredible variant cover to Aquaman #31, featuring a 75th anniversary tribute to Batman as well as an incredible pastel array of deep-sea creatures. What truly amazing about this cover is that each one of these animals is a real living denizen of the deep right here, on Earth Prime. Sure, the scale might be a little off, and it’s unlikely that a scale worm could swallow a Bat-thyscaph, but the salient details are uncanny. Join me on a tour of the 18 wonderful animals featured on this sure-to-be epic installment of Aquaman’s ocean-spanning adventures. Today we’re looking at the first three, including one of my all time favorite marine organisms.

aquapurged

 

frilled1. Frilled Shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus)

The frilled shark is a globally distributed, though rare, shark species that in habits the continental slope, at depths ranging from 50 to 200 meters. It possess many basal features, including an articulated upper jaw, multi-pointed teeth, and a notochord lacking clearly defined vertebrae.

Frilled Shark. Image via National Geographic.

Frilled Shark. Image via National Geographic.

Unlike most sharks, which have underslung jaws, frilled sharks jaws terminate at the end of their snout, giving them a distinctly serpent-like appearance. Aquaman has nothing to worry about, as this 2-meter-long elasmobranch feeds primarily on squid, octopus, and other mollusks. It’s fine teeth are better suited to grinding than gnashing at Atlantean armor.

nomnomous2. Giant Deep-sea Isopod (Bathynomus giganteus)

The much-loved giant deep-sea isopod is something of a fixture around here. And from what I can tell, it’s a pretty popular prop in Aquaman’s world, too. These deep benthic scavengers can grow 20 centimeters or more, dwarfing their terrestrial counterparts.

Here’s one swimming:

worm23. A deep-sea worm with no common name (Eunice pulvinopalpata)

Eunice pulvinopalpata. Photo by Chris Allen.

Eunice pulvinopalpata. Photo by Chris Allen.

Very little is known about Eunice pulvinopalpata, a worm found on the walls of black smokers in the Pacific ocean. It may be carnivorous, feeding on other species that live around these oases in the deep-sea. One thing is certain, in both comics and the real world, there is so much still waiting to be discovered.

That’s all for now. Check back tomorrow as we identify the next 3 species from this epic cover.

 


Deep-sea biologist, population/conservation geneticist, backyard farm advocate. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.


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