Grade 5 report, by Ewan Craig, 2003
If you are swimming and bump into what looks like a brain from Saturn dont get freaked out because it is just a harmless bryozoan colony. However, if you pierce it, it might give off poison.
Many people think bryozoans are extinct but they still live in lakes and oceans. The bryozoans that live in salt water are a lot different from fresh water bryozoans. Fresh water bryozoans live in colonies which can get as big as a basketball. A new colony will start from larva or from statoblasts which are like seeds. Bryozoans are water animals so that means they eat and digest tiny animals like plankton by filtering them out of the water. Each bryozoan is about 1 mm long (see picture below).
Freshwater bryozoan colonies are usually found around branches that have fallen into still water. If you cut one of these colonies in two you would find gelatin type stuff inside.
When you see bryozoan fossils they look like moss. That is why in Greek bryozoan means moss animal. Bryozoans have been around for about 500,000,000 years!
On my trip to Lake Temagami in Ontario (Canada) I saw Pectinatella magnifica bryozoans in a lake. See my pictures of Pectinatella magnifica below and the list of links to lots of sites about bryozoa.
Microscope photos, diagrams of internals
Alien Life Forms? No, just bryozoans
A site with many links
Moss Animals Invade Lake Cochitute
Good Definition of Bryozoans
Bryozoans that live in the oceans (SEM images)
Comparison of Bryozoans and Corals
Impact of nonindigenous bryozoans