I have been writing a paper tonight on Sowbug’s aka Rolly Polly’s. There was a time when Rolly Polly’s really interested me. I would entertain myself by poking them and watching them curl up in ball but that time has long past and there is a lot else I would rather be doing.
But having finished the paper, I am amazed at these little creatures. There is a lot more to them then I would have thought. Come to find out, many scientists have spent their careers studying Sowbugs (…and for that I am grateful as one evening is enough for me)
Why are Sowbugs interesting to scientists? Weeelll, they are not actually bugs, they breath through gills. And because they have very simple lungs, evolutionary biologist consider Sowbugs a leap forward in evolutionary development. Of course, the flip side is that Sowbugs are perfectly well designed to live in the environment they have been placed in and don’t need anything more. As our bio prof pointed out, “Why say that a simpler organism is inferior? Many very simple organisms thrive in the environment they are in.”
Something I thought was interesting is how similar Sowbugs look to Pill Millipedes although they are a ways apart on the evolutionary family tree (a Millipede is an insect and a Sowbug is a crustacean) This is what has been termed parallel evolution but it is hard to envisage two organisms evolving identical looking shells (there are other even better examples) .