John Gamel asked:
The vast majority of animals are symmetrical - i.e., the left sides of their bodies are mirror images of the right sides.
Of course very few, if any, are symmetrical when it comes to internal organs.
Also, I've read that some crabs have one claw much larger than the other.
So what is the most asymmetrical living animal on the planet - excluding, of course, congenital defects?
We put this to our resident zoologist Max Gray...
Max - So there's actually a very clear answer and there's lots of animals that are a little bit asymmetrical. Youíve got flat fish that as adults, that one eyes migrated around to the other side of its head. And you mentioned the crabs with the one large claw but all of those animals tend to develop symmetrically. They start off being symmetrical when they're first conceived or when they're larvae or embryos or something on that line.
However, there's one thing that is never symmetrical at no point in its development unless you count when itís a single cell. Thatís sponges. So, coral reefs, youíve got sponges which are generally considered Ė a single sponge is considered to be a single organism. But itís almost not. Itís an aggregation of loads and loads of different single cellular sponge cells. As they form together, they form this colony which just kind of pieces together in different shapes and has no identifiable symmetry. The reason that counts as an organism rather than a colony because once they do all form together, they do start specialising all the little sponge cells do specialise to different roles and would no longer be able to survive on their own.
Kat - Presumably, before they get stolen by a dolphin to go diving with.
Max - Exactly, yes.
Kat - Does that answer your question there, John? Did you think it was a sponge?
John - Well, I would never guessed. Thatís kind of an extreme. So, okay if he classifies them as an animal, God knows they're asymmetric. I mean, I wash my kitchen sink every night, those little pores and whatever are not so much.
Kat - Well, there you go. When you go and wash up tonight, you can think of the sponge. Thanks very much for your question. Thanks for calling in.
The flounder immediately comes to mind, depending on how you look at it. I can't really think of any others off the top of my head. It's interesting that you mention crabs. I'd always noticed the asymmetry but hadn't really consciously thought of it until now. CaptMoldman, Wed, 16th Sep 2015
How about the amoeba? It's shape is continually changing due to cues in its environment. evan_au, Fri, 18th Sep 2015
Yeah, the amoeba would probably be the best answer. Nice thinking, I wasn't thinking outside the multicellular box. CaptMoldman, Mon, 21st Sep 2015
It has occurred to me, while soaping down Mistress Olivia's back, that sponges have no symmetry whatsoever. Pecos_Bill, Wed, 23rd Sep 2015
They have a roughly cylindrical symmetry. As such they have a higher degree of symmetry that you , me or a starfish.
There is symmetry and there is not symmetry.
The subject is symmetry not it's second cousin fuzzy transitions in spectroscopy.
And yet another argumentative Big Noise from Winnetka chips in for the home team.
"The subject is symmetry not it's second cousin fuzzy transitions in spectroscopy."
I repeat ..
now hold on a minute.
The question of the most asymmetrical animal - which happens to be the matter at hand - depends upon a clear and rigorous definition of symmetry or everything else said is nonsense.
Still up to their shoddy tricks I see. I am posting this after they removed it. (Although I did instantiate one of my cyber golems to post it originally.) As you can see from this, it terrifies certain people. Anybody want to make a side bet on how often this stupidity is repeated? (Hint: golems are very easy to instantiate ..."ad nauseum" here )