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Curriculum

There is so much to know and learn and explore with Triops. You can view the educational booklet that comes with our Triassic Triops DLX kits and the curriculum written by the Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Education(PNW) for use with Triassic Triops® kits. Below that, you will find the information and photos from the original Triops website.

 

Our Booklet

Triops Curriculum is written for second-grade classrooms but is easily adaptable to other learning levels. Classrooms, homes, museums, discovery centers, aquariums and zoos have used it successfully. We think the PNW did a great job!

Triops Curriculum, Vocabulary & Lesson 1

Triops Curriculum, Lessons 2 & 3

Triops Curriculum, Lessons 4 & 5

 

Triops:  A Living Fossil

Whenever it grows, a Triops must shed its exoskeleton, a process called molting; then a new one is formed. Because the young Triops grow so rapidly, they often molt on a daily basis. You might find the molted exoskeletons at the bottom of your ecosystem's tank; then again, you might not since the Triops often eat them. In fact, if they don't get enough food, Triops will eat anything, including each other!

 

Triops differ from many crustaceans in that they don't have gills. Instead, Triops breathe using the feather-like fans attached to their 50 to 70 legs. These legs, which never stop moving, are also used for eating and swimming. For this reason, they are called branchiopods, which means ''gill foot''.

Adult Triops can be brilliant in color, with bright reds, pinks, blues and greens. The reds and pinks come from hemoglobin in their blood, and the other colors come from pigmentation in their connective tissue.

There are many species of Triops - Triops australiensis, Triops cancriformis, Triops longicaudatus - but you have only T. longicaudatus in your kit. In nature, these Triops are found mostly in desert regions of North America. They hatch in 24 to 48 hours. At first, your Triops will be as tiny as a period on this page, but they will grow quickly to 2 or 3 inches and live for 20 to 90 days.

 

Where are Triops found in nature?

Your Triops eggs were raised on special aquatic farms, but in nature they inhabit temporary ponds all over the world. These ponds usually dry up during certain times of the year when there is no rainfall. Although the adult Triops die during these droughts, the embryos remain in a state of diapause until the rains return and fill up the temporary ponds once again, making it safe for them to hatch.

Triops first appeared on earth 50 million years ago, before the age of dinosaurs! At this time, the earth consisted of one large ocean called Panthalassas and one single landmass called Pangaea, meaning ''all the land''. During the Jurassic period, there was a major upheaval called the continental drift that split the land into the 7 continents we see today.

As Pangaea separated into different continents, Triops were carried along with them. Triops are now found on every continent except Antarctica where it is just too cold for them to survive.

 

HOW DID TRIOPS SURVIVE WHEN THE DINOSAURS DID NOT?

There are numerous theories on why and how the dinosaurs became extinct, but some scientists have concluded that there were long periods of drought (when no rain falls) with extremely hot temperatures. Water was not available for drinking or for allowing plants to grow, so dinosaurs gradually disappeared. Triops, however, evolved a method of survival that allowed unhatched young to withstand the long droughts and sweltering heat:diapause, or suspended animation. Triops inhabit temporary ponds, and, when they dry up, the Triops eggs that have been buried in the sediment go into a state of diapause. When the rains return to refill the temporary ponds and the temperatures cool, the eggs hatch, and the cycle starts again.

Killifish:  The famous tropical jumping fish that traveled through space! 



Who discovered Killifish?
A 19th-century German scientist found the first Killifish while traveling through Africa. He noticed that these dynamic fish seemed to miraculously appear in ponds newly created by heavy rains following a long period of drought. They have also been found in South America, including Argentina and Uruguay.

Are Killifish the only animal to enter diapause?
Diapause is not unique to Killifish and Triops. Diapause has been observed in insects, copepods (shrimp-like crustaceans), birds, marsupials (animals with pouches like the ''kangaroo'' and some other mammals (including deer). Diapause even occurs in chicken eggs. Egg development stops whenever the hen gets off of the egg and starts again when the hen returns to sit on her nest due to the change in temperature.

Tell me more about diapause.
During diapause, cell growth and development is reversibly stopped or slowed. Killifish and Triops eggs in diapause can survive for months or even years! Many factors, such as light, pH, salinity and temperature affect diapause. By controlling these factors, researchers at the Triops, Inc. farms and the Diapause Research Foundation are able to trigger diapause and produce eggs in suspended animation for you to study and enjoy. The exciting part is that these eggs can be quickly hatched by you simply by adding water.

How do the eggs know when to enter diapause?
Recent findings suggest that the female, in response to environmental cues, relays a message to the egg to stop growing for a fixed amount of time. Essentially, the biological clock stops. These sleeping embryos can remain alive in diapause for periods up to a decade. Some have survived even longer. When diapause is broken and the embryo wakes up, it continues to develop and hatch, as if time has stood still until then! Our lab-grown Killifish have a life cycle of up to one year, which is why they're called annual Killifish. Triops live 20 to 90 days.

Why were Killifish and Triops sent into space?

The discovery of how Killifish and Triops survive the deadly drought conditions of their habitat by going into diapause was so amazing that science classes wanting to do experiments in space chose Killifish grown in the Triops laboratories for two NASA-sponsored studies aboard the Space Shuttle. Television coverage of these incredible Killifish included segments on Fox News, Prime Time Pet, New York's Eyewitness News, and MTV. They were also featured in such magazines as Discover, First, Woman's World, Family Circle and Forbes' Egg. Their trips in space were also covered by thousands of local newspapers.

Triops went into space on STS-121 on July 4, 2006, to do a little celestial snoozing. Five hundred-thousand eggs boarded the International Space Station for some zero-gravity research. They returned to Earth on December 22, 2006, on STS-116. NASA kept 200,000 and returned 300,000 to Triops, Inc. for donation to the
Diapause Research Foundation. The Diapause Research Foundation will use the eggs in their quest to discover the secrets of diapause and apply what they learn to possible cures and treatments for diseases and ailments.

For information on how to make a tax-deductible donation to the Diapause Research Foundation, click here.


Why study Triops?

Our neurophysiologist Eugene Hull, Ph.D., studies diapause in the hope of extracting the biological-clock-stopping chemical found in the eggs. He believes that it could be used to suspend cellular growth in humans. Imagine the potential uses:slowing the aging process, putting a stop to cancer growth or even easing space travel!

Many factors affect diapause, such as light, salt and temperature. By controlling these factors, Dr. Hull is able to control diapause and produce eggs in suspended animation. These eggs can be hatched by merely adding water, thus producing Triops – the pet dinosaur that you can hatch yourself!

For information on how to make a tax-deductible donation to the Diapause Research Foundation or to find out more about Dr. Hull’s research, visit the Diapause Research Foundation online.

 

 

A portion of Triops, Inc.’s profits goes directly to fund the Diapause Research Foundation. 

 
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