It has not escaped our notice that you are no longer really noticing us. You do not collect and play with us with your fancy gadgets anymore to find out what we are made of and how we live and function. Instead, you now spend most of your time up in the clouds trying to imagine who we are, what we can or cannot do and how we got this way. Why not focus on our biology also, and observe and do experiments on us like you used to do? Yogi Beroë famously explained the advantages!
We despair that you have become out of touch with nature. Indeed, if ignorance is bliss and illusion, you will miss a lot of our undiscovered structures, developmental pathways, and unique cellular and physiological mechanisms by ignoring us. You know us mainly for what we are not: invertebrates and nonbilaterians. So we urge you to get a life and look at life (us)! We eagerly wait for you to do something on/with/in us to reveal our many unknown and undescribed features—our “hidden biology”—which is necessary to understand early animal evolution. We implore you to take the advice of Casey Dunn, Sally Leys, and Steve Haddock in The hidden biology of sponges and ctenophores (Trends in Ecology & Evolution, May 2015, 30: 282-291).
But for Neptune’s sake, don’t ask us for specifics on exactly what you should investigate to advance current scientific knowledge of early animals. That, our friends, is up to you! We don’t want to limit your ideas or spoil your fun and pleasure in exploiting our rich treasures for opening exciting new avenues of research. We have firm gelatinous confidence that you can do this, given the opportunity.
One last suggestion for success is to go back to your uncommonly observant ancestors (we loved the painstaking attentions of Drs. Eimer, Hertwig, Yatsu, Agassiz, Heider, Chun, Morgan, Komai, Verworn, et al), and follow up on what they discovered–or left unanswered–with the advantages of modern experimental techniques and approaches.
We look forward to hearing about your results on us at the next ctenophore meeting!
With best regards und mit herzlichen Grüssen,