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 for use with Triassic Triops® kits. Below that, you will find the information and photos from the original Triops website.
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 board of education did a great job!
What are Triops?
Triops are crustaceans that look like miniature horseshoe crabs. Larger members of the crustacean family include crabs and lobsters. Smaller members are brine shrimp, fairy shrimp, and Daphnia. Triops have a relatively short lifespan of 20 to 90 days and grow quickly to their adult length of one to three inches. How large they grow depends on the amount of light and food they receive. After hatching, they often double in size daily!
The bright colors of the Triops are due to hemoglobin in the blood and a dark blue-green pigment in the connective tissue. They are called branchiopods (gill foot) because they obtain oxygen from the water through their feet. The young quickly move through several larval stages, molting their exoskeletons each time. Adults can complete their life cycle in less than 30 days. Triops are usually in constant motion and have entertaining feeding and breathing patterns that include amazing acrobatics and upside-down swimming. While swimming on their backs, Triops are able to sweep food into their mouth by using their many legs.
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 grow in many parts of the world, including Japan, Russia, western North America, Africa, Australia, and, more infrequently, in Central and South America, the West Indies, Hawaii, New Caledonia, the Galapagos Islands and India.
Tell me more about diapause.
How DO the eggs know when to enter diapause? A message is transmitted to the eggs by the female. This message stops the growth of the eggs. This same message lets the eggs know that when they are exposed to water again, it will be time to hatch. The growth message, probably chemical, essentially stops the biological clock of the embryonic Triops.
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!
Triops photos by Massimo Brega. All rights reserved.
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 funding the Diapause Research Foundation.