Hello folks who wonder if double dipping in the future will mean dipping your chips in Purell before dipping them in guac,

An exchange student is defined by someone who comes over to a new country to experience the new culture and learn the language. During their stay they might rub you the wrong way by asking questions like "why do most people here walk around sipping soda from gallon cups?" or "why do restaurants serve food with portions large enough to feed an entire African village?" or sometimes even "why do they show commercials of prescription drugs?". And then now that they have blown your fuse, you respond with a stern "'Coz this is 'Murica, kid. The land of the free and the home of the brave" which usually silences them.

Similarly, we have students who left the comfort of land and went to spend their lives in water. In exchange, the water sent some students to stay with us on land.
One such example of something that transitioned from water to land are the Pill Bugs or Roly Polies. Pill bugs can be found in our soil running around, playing like a toddler eating all decaying stuff they come across. Despite people calling them bugs, they are not bugs in the true sense. Pill bugs are isopods which means they are not even insects.
Not getting an insect membership means they don't have the usual 6 legs, wings and 3 distinct body segments.


Pill bugs like other isopods have 14 legs on them, and it believes in the inspirational "Never forget where you came from" quote it once saw on its Instagram feed, despite staying on land for all this time they will always stay in moist, sheltered places which reminds them of home. No seriously, you won't find a living pill bug soaking in the sun, not because they forgot their sunscreen at home but because they will dry out and eventually become a paper weight. Not for an actual A4 size paper, more of a sticky note sized paper.

If you have ever picked them up and flipped them, you will see white spots on the bottom part of their undersides that resemble gill-like structures. These are areas which they need to keep moist and are used for respiration.


What is fascinating to me is how their legs bend inwards instead of the traditional insect legs which bend outwards.


I believe this is to help them pack those legs tightly when they roll into a ball to protect their vulnerable undersides.


Now that we met the exchange student, let's see what it's isopod cousin looks like in their original environment.
Here is one called only by the scientific name of Synidotea laticauda. Wow, you might well bite your tongue saying that name. You can tell how many human friends a creature has by how many common names it has. Since this one only has a scientific name, you can tell this one is not going to win the popularity content anytime soon.
Anyways, here is how they roll around in their marine environments.


Just like their land isopod cousins, they will dig into mud as well to find decaying food.


Towards the end of their bodies, they have two limbs called "pleopods" which resemble fish tails that help with swimming and respiration.


Now that we met the exchange student that transitioned from water to land, let's meet the exchange students that went from land to water.
People who dig stuff for a living have found fossils which indicate that whales and dolphins were on land almost 50 million years ago. They then said, they are fed up with their clothes getting soiled every time they play, so they wondered where could they go where they could never have to worry about getting dirty again. "Water" quipped one smart cookie and so they packed up all their stuff and departed for the water. Little did they know about the BP oil spills in the future.

Anyways, having evolved from four footed land animals they still need to come out of water to get their dose of oxygen unlike other fishes.
Because like the pill bugs they never forgot where they came from.
This is great for people on whale watching trips, since it gives away their presence when you see them slapping their tail before they make the next deep dive for food.


This is what it would look like if a human would do something similar.


Also, coming out of water to gulp some oxygen is used to identify which species it is. Since different signs on their bodies can give away different clues, like this example of Risso's dolphins which are covered in scars and scratches from its battle with squids.


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