Ello, Echinoderms!

Well, I've been a Forensic Entomologist for a while, but until now have not had the opportunity to mix my scientific career with my inherent knack for maniacal super-villainy, in the way of respected colleagues such as Dr. Evil, Dr. Phibes, and Lady Gaga when she gestates in that freaky plastic egg-thing.

However, today I popped my Dark Cherry in the world of the (massively underfunded) Evil and Mad Sciences. No longer am I limited to the Evil Grad Student's Faculty Break Room, with its inferior quality cookies and 2-day old muffins. Today I earned my high-pitched cackle and hunchbacked-lab assistant, as during a Marine Invertebrate Zoology lab session I was TA-ing in, much like Herbert West, Victor Frankestein, and Dr. Phil, I dabbled in hideously unnatural pursuits not meant to be known by mortal humans.

Yes people, I actually and for real created a zombie army.

Okay, a zombie army comprised of Sea Urchins, but you can't just pull a George Romero on these things—much like having sex with various members of the PIC staff, you have to start small before working your way up to the big boys.

The Invasion begins….

I shall explain. You see, a week ago, the class was dissecting Sea-Urchins, those little echinoderms that look like the result of a mating between a pincushion and a particularly undiscriminating hedgehog.

Like all of our invertebrates that have a scalpel appointment, the 50 or so Common Urchins had been euthanized several hours before class via immersion in an overdose of anaesthetic—they would go to sleep and not wake up and the students could dissect the wee things without being stabbed by the defensive spines, or without distractions such as high-pitched screams and half-unconscious disectees begging you not to use the cranial drill on them (but the story of my day in the human cadaver lab will have to wait until another day; or at least until my court-appointed psychiatrist brings me some more crayons)

So, there we were, dissecting away, up to our elbows in Sea-Urchin viscera, with the lab looking like there'd been an explosion at a sushi bar. As we finished dissecting each part, we microscoped it and had a better look at the beautiful creature we'd just torn limb from limb.

As I got to the gonads of my male urchin (and my, they're large—Urchins are apparently 70% reproductive tissue. Just like Jason Priestley) and microscoped the results, I noticed that, despite the fact that my urchin had been euthanized some six hours earlier, I was still seeing live, viable sperm swimming around happily in my scope. I mentioned this to the class, and a student mentioned that his urchin—a female—had live eggs.

That was the moment when the idea entered my brain; like some version of Dr. Moreau, only without the backbone. The student with the viable urchin egg cells came over to my desk and we combined the eggs with my urchin's live sperm cells.

We then put the jar containing the undead sexfest at the back of the room and left to go to the Uni pub before the angry mob of peasants wielding flaming torches arrived (then I remembered the Young Christians Uni Club didn't meet until the next day)

Anyway, fast forward to this morning, and we checked the container, some eight days after initially combining the live sperm and live egg cells from euthanized sea urchins that had been dead for over a week.

"It's Allliiiiive! It's Alliiiiiiiiiive!"

-We had stage 4 (of 6) Sea Urchin larvae swimming around happily in the aquarium—hundreds of the little things happily growing into strong and psychologically balanced adult urchin, innocent of the knowledge that their parents had been vivisected hours before their conception, that they were technically undead, and that I and a male student had conceived them, so technically they were also orphans being raised by same sex adoptive parents.

"What is thy bidding, my Master?!"

They've got a bit of growing to do, and I have yet to ween them off of marine detritus to a diet of fresh human brains, but I am confident that within a year or so, people at beaches all over Japan will be reeling around in the surf with my spiny troops cracking open their skulls in revenge for all the Uni (Urchin Sushi) they've been consuming. Today the Rock-Pools, tomorrow the world!!

"Wait- first I had to marry the green guy with the flat-top, now I'm engaged to an echinoderm?!"

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