Decades ~ the toy-pet hybrid very first hit shelves, exceptional Live Sea-Monkeys is making headlines again—this time thanks to a "David and Goliath" trademark lawsuit in between onetime Sea-Monkeys heir Yolanda Signorelli von Braunhut and huge Time Toys, which insurance claims to have complete ownership that the empire. Follow to The new York Times, the lawsuit, as defined by Signorellia von Braunhut"s attorney, is "practically a newsreel melodrama." before diving in to the legit drama, brush increase on her Sea-Monkeys history: right here are a few things you might not have actually known around one of your favorite childhood pets.

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1. Sea-Monkeys were motivated by a visit to a pets store.


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Trade publication ad for Sea-Monkeys, 1972.Courtesy the solid National Museum of Play.

In 1957, Harold von Braunhut became fascinated through a varieties of brine shrimp, Artemia salina, the he saw being marketed as pet food in a pet store. “These shrimp live in salt lakes or salt flats, and also when the water that a salt lake evaporates, the shrimp go into this state of suspended animation,” states Patricia Hogan, a curator at the solid National Museum the Play. If in this state—also well-known as cryptobiosis—the animals are in a security cyst-like casing, until water is added. Von Braunhut, through the help of maritime biologist and microcrustacean professional Anthony D"Agostino, figured out a means to act tap water with a mix of nutrients (von Braunhut dubbed them “magic crystals” and also mixed lock in a barn top top his property) that would revive the shrimp in a tank in ~ home.

"People say, "What gave you the idea because that Sea-Monkeys?"” von Braunhut, who held about 200 patents, said in one interview v the Baltimore Sun in 1997. “I thought, if you can take a package of powder and put the in water and see it involved life. What can be more remarkable than that? … ns was constantly interested in wildlife, and I was in search of something that would interest other world in it."

Hogan claims that von Braunhut may likewise have been influenced by an additional popular product that hit the industry the year prior to he gained the idea for Sea-Monkeys: “This was additionally around the moment of Uncle Milton and also his ant farms,” Hogan says. “There to be this type of idea that you can sell science to youngsters or sell them lifeforms that would certainly entertain them indigenous which they might learn about nature. I’ve never seen anything the specifically said why Harold Von Braunhut was particularly hellbent on offering brine shrimp to kids, however it’s a good way to make a buck.”

2. Sea-Monkeys weren’t initially marketed together Sea-Monkeys.

When he began selling his shrimp in 1960s, von Braunhut marketed them under the name “Instant Life.” The kit sold for simply 49 cents. “What you gained was the packets of the shrimp and also then the small packets of nutrients and the food the shrimp would certainly eat,” Hogan says. “They did not come with a tank. You had to administer your very own goldfish bowl.”

3. Sea-Monkey tails inspired their name.

Though they weren’t marketed that way, von Braunhut did contact the brine shrimp sea-monkeys (and "exotic Saskatchewan Brine Shrimp") in his ads. According to Hogan, “He referred to as them sea-monkeys due to the fact that they have a tail that looks choose a monkey’s tail. The sea part is obviously because they’re a water animal—though not of the ocean.” note Tim Walsh in his book, Timeless Toys: classic Toys and also the Playmakers Who produced Them, “if this was maritime biology this facts would certainly matter, however this to be marketing!” In 1964, the product lost the instant Life surname in favor of Sea-Monkeys.

4. Sea-Monkeys don’t really look like the creatures ~ above the packaging.

The naked, pot-bellied humanoid creatures v crown-like head ornaments don’t resemble yes, really brine shrimp in ~ all. Von Braunhut hired comic publication artist Joe Orlando—who would later go top top to end up being vice president of DC Comics and also associate publisher the MAD magazine—to attract the 1950s-esque humanoid creatures, which in reality look like this:


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Hans Hillewaert, Wikimedia Commons // CC by SA-4.0

“The sea primates weren’t all that kids were led to believe from the marketing,” Hogan says. “I think children are nice clever in ~ making things work-related or finding means to have actually fun, even with something that might disappoint them since they’re not specifically what lock appeared.”

In 1999, education Insights—the firm that owns ExploraToy, which markets Sea-Monkeys—attempted come revamp the critters’ look. Gregory Bevington, at the time art manager of ExploraToy, described the Sea-Monkeys’ old aesthetic come the Los Angeles Times as "naked civilization with webbed tails and feet and hands and also three prongs sticking out of your heads. They have potbellies and skinny arms and also legs therefore they"re no really physically fit. … If we really want them come appeal to youngsters of today, they have to look choose superheroes or activity figures.” according to Times, the brand-new Sea-Monkeys “had enormous torsos and also tree-trunk legs. Part wore scaly chest plates; others sported capes.” Ultimately, the transforms weren"t made.

5. Sea-Monkeys were very first advertised in comic books.

Despite the success the Uncle Milton’s ant farms, chain shop wouldn’t touch von Braunhut’s creatures, in component because that Wham-O’s damaging Instant Fish toy. “Wham-O to be flying greater than a kite with the Superball and also the Hula Hoop, and also they took a threat on an instant fish. Yet the fish didn"t work,” von Braunhut said the LA Times in 2000 (this same piece revealed the inventor’s ties come white superiorist groups; you have the right to read more about this unsettling component of von Braunhut"s previous here). “The buyer at Sears, Roebuck nearly got fired because of it. So as soon as I take it my Sea-Monkeys about after that, you"d think one more Ice age had happened. The doors that weren"t open to start with slammed close up door in my face.”

So in 1962, he began buying up advertising space in comic books, writing the copy—which promised “a BOWLFULL the HAPPINESS”—himself. “He to be quoted as saying the he purchase 3.2 million pages in comic publication ads a year,” Hogan says. “He put those ads in every kind of comic book—in Archie and also Spiderman and also Casper the familiar Ghost. He didn’t walk for a form or genre the comic books. These to be marketed straight to kids, bypassing parental authority, but also parental cautions. And that strategy to be successful.”

All world had to do was send the money to the deal with in the ad, and their Sea-Monkeys would certainly arrive in the mail.

6. Sea-Monkeys space a types that doesn’t exist in nature.

Keeping the initial Sea-Monkeys alive was "a disastrous struggle," von Braunhut said the Sun; typically, simply two the the shrimp would certainly live for a month (the inventor got roughly their short life spans by providing a “sea-monkey life insurance allowance policy,” good for two years ~ purchase). He and D"Agostino started cross-breeding shrimp indigenous the genus Artemia to make a heartier species, which they called Artemia NYOS, after ~ the Montor, long Island laboratory (New York Oceanic Society) where they to be created.

“We want them to prosper to be huge enough to be of interest, but also live long enough to be a pet,” von Braunhut recounted in Timeless Toys in 2002, simply a year prior to his death. “These goals took years to attain.”

"There"s other in the flour formulates the does something come those eggs that nature can"t do," George C. Atamian, Vice president of ExploraToy, which sells Sea-Monkeys, said the LA Times. "It provided to be only one Sea Monkey lived and also that one died. Currently the formulation that the chemistry, the vigor of the Sea primates themselves, is better than ever.”

7. Sea-Monkeys breathe v their feet.

And that’s no the only weird thing around their anatomy: they’re born with just one eye, but grow two more upon reaching maturity.

8. Sea-Monkeys room attracted to light.

“If you placed a flashlight come them, Sea-Monkeys will certainly swim towards it,” Hogan says. “It’s type of a herbal reaction. And if you operation your finger tip across the tank, lock will often gravitate come it.”

9. That not quite “Instant Life.”

Any kid who had Sea-Monkeys knows that you had to include the nutrient packet to prep your tap water, wait 24 hours, and then include the packet that eggs. But according come von Braunhut’s patent, there room eggs in the nutrient packet, too—and a dye from the 2nd packet that eggs renders those very first hatchlings simpler to check out (emphasis ours):

”This invention gives for make an aquatic life habitat because that the flower of brine shrimp in madness water and also divides the materials that are vital into two groups. The first a water purifier and also conditioner group consisting of a number of salts vital for the creation of the proper saline atmosphere including also a drying agent such together calcium chloride for maintaining the team in a dry condition, one oxidizing agent together as salt thiosulphate and also some brine shrimp eggs. This very first group is added to the tap water and allowed to stand for 24 come 36 hrs at room temperature. The 2nd group is consisted of of added salts for the saline environment, food because that the flower brine shrimp, additional brine shrimp eggs, a drying agent such as dried Epsom salt and a water-soluble dye. The 2nd group is included to the aged water medium whereby the dye colour in the water give the hatched brine shrimp that the an initial group less complicated visibility, thereby providing the impression of instant life.

Sneaky!

10. There space a ton of Sea-Monkey accessories.

Sea-Monkey to adjust that contained tanks (notably Sea-Monkey ocean Zoo and also Sea-Monkey Circus) became accessible in stores in the late 1960s; shortly there to be a slew of various other sea-monkey accessories, consisting of Sea-Monkey Speedway and also Sea-Monkey Fox hunting (above), i m sorry debuted in the 1970s.


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Trade publication advertisement circa 1973.Courtesy of the solid National Museum that Play.

More recently, children could take your Sea-Monkeys top top the walk in a specially designed “wrist aquarium” and also with an Explora-Sub.

The Sea-Monkey Handbook the accompanies the critters in that first set additionally offers a variety of other products for the microcrustacean"s pleasure, consisting of a "banana treat" ("a long-lasting supply of tasty "dessert" for her aquatic pets"), "red magic" vitamins ("this is the formula include EVERY well-known VITAMIN your Sea-Monkeys require for durable health!"),"Sea-Diamonds" ("this heap that sparkling "sea gems" make Sea-Monkeys happy by providing them playthings they will actually pat with!"), and also more.

11. Sea-Monkeys aren’t harmful come the environment.

Don’t worry: If you end up losing some of her shrimp under the drain, castle won’t become an invasive varieties a la the oriental carp or the lion fish; in fact, they can not survive external of the water ready for them through von Braunhut’s formula.

12. You deserve to tell male Sea-Monkeys indigenous female Sea-Monkeys.

Males have actually whiskers under their chins; females don’t. Girlfriend can often see males locked together, fighting because that the fist of woman sea-monkeys. If 2 sea-monkeys space locked together and one of them doesn’t have actually whiskers, you room witnessing a really private sea-monkey minute that can last for days. (Yup. Days.)

Females will build a pouch as soon as they’re pregnant, but they don’t have to mate to end up being so: They can fertilize their own eggs, a procedure known as parthenogenesis; once the eggs hatch, the shrimp space tiny—just about as huge as the duration at the finish of this sentence—and can prosper up come 2 inches long.

13 Sea-Monkeys visited space.

On October 29, 1998, the space Shuttle Discovery lugged some very special cargo into space: Astronaut man Glenn—who, in ~ 77, to be participating in a research on the results of an are on the elderly—and 400 million Sea-Monkey eggs. The eggs spent nine days in room and, when they to be hatched eight main later, the creatures proved no ill results from their journey. Educational Insights commemorated the pilgrimage with a unique edition aquarium built according to NASA design (above).

14. Sea-Monkeys popular in pop culture—and have countless famous fans.

The Pixies and Liz Phair have actually name-dropped castle in songs. Brooke Shields is apparently a fan. They’ve to be featured on South Park (see the song above), Spin City, Roseanne, Night Court, The Simpsons, third Rock from the Sun, American Dad, It"s Garry Shandling"s Show, desperate Housewives and more. Not bad for brine shrimp!

15. Sea-Monkeys influenced a video game …

“There is hazard everywhere: Predatory fish like electric eels and octopuses are just waiting because that the Sea chimpanzees being handed come them top top a plate,” read IGN’s description of this one-player game, which debuted in the early 2000s. “But you have the right to influence the Sea primates to protect them indigenous evil and guide them to a safe ar ... You have the right to ensure the survive of the Sea chimpanzees by do clever usage of the sea world.”But the game had reviewers bored. “Every items is attach by a summary that includes jokes hilarious enough to have been written by eighties comedian Sinbad,” one reviewer wrote. “When The exceptional Virtual Sea-Monkeys cases to be rated ‘E for Everyone,’ what castle really average is ‘Unless you’re younger than twelve, you will certainly be helpless come imagine a civilization in i beg your pardon you can enjoy this game.’”

16. … and also a Sea-Monkeys TV show.

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The exceptional Live Sea-Monkeys aired ~ above CBS in 1992. The series—which starred Howie Mandel as a professor that accidentally enlarges 3 Sea-Monkeys to human being size—aired in the U.S. And also Australia and lasted simply 11 episodes. You can watch a clip above.