Y: On today's Moment of Science we'll be talking about an animal that even science fiction fans will find hard to believe. It's called a pyrosome and lives in the open ocean.
D: I don't know, Yaël, science fiction writers have dreamed up some pretty strange things.
Y: For starters, if you saw a pyrosome you might not recognize it as an animal. It looks like an inflatable tube, and can be as long as forty feet. When disturbed, it glows brightly with bioluminescence.
D: So, it's a glowing tube.
Y: Be patient, it gets better. The tube is made of tiny animals called zooids. Each one has its own body, but they are all physically joined together as a single colonial organism.
D: That sounds a lot like the Borg, from Star Trek. They were beings that were all linked together electronically into a single collective entity.
Y: Yes, and a pyrosome also has something in common with the army of the Galactic Republic in Star Wars.
D: How so?
Y: The army consisted entirely of clones of one individual. The zooids that make up a single pyrosome are also all clones.
D: Well, OK, you've convinced me that this thing is strange, but how does it live?
Y: Each zooid sucks in water, filters out plankton to eat, and blows the rest into the inside of the tube. One end is closed, and the other is open. Water flows out the open end, letting the whole colony move by jet propulsion.
D: It's a glowing tubular jet-propelled clone army. I guess we don't need to go to a galaxy far, far away to find exotic creatures.