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These aren't jellyfish...
December 22, 2008 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Similar to coral, and much like the individual cells in our body, the individual zooids of Siphonophorae are so specialized that they lack the ability to survive on their own. Siphonophorae thus exist at the boundary between colonial and complex multicellular organisms. The Portuguese Man of War is probably the best known example of a Siphonophore, but there are others out there, some of which may well blow your mind.
posted by furtive (23 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The last link is the money link.
posted by furtive at 8:00 PM on December 22, 2008


What is the fundamental difference that makes one of our cells a cell and one of these things a creature?
posted by Flunkie at 8:14 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


The last link is the money link.
posted by furtive at 8:00 PM on December 22 [+] [!]


Sorry, there's something about this one...
posted by 445supermag at 8:16 PM on December 22, 2008


When I was little we made a point of stomping on every washed-up bluebottle we could find, because we knew they could sting.

Also, they made a very satisfying POP if the sand was firm.

I've seen lots of them on New Zealand beaches, but miraculously in 38 years I've never been stung.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:32 PM on December 22, 2008


Flunkie: zooids are individual creatures, made up of many cells. Each zooid has its own mouth, gut and anus (not that you need any or all of these to be a creature), unlike cells. That doesn't really answer your question though.
posted by furtive at 8:33 PM on December 22, 2008


So how do they reproduce? I can't believe I almost made it to 40 without knowing that that the Portuguese Man of War is a colonial organism. And I'm smart. Fuck, what else don't I know?!
posted by nanojath at 8:39 PM on December 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


So when I was a kid, we were visiting my grandparents in St. Petersburg, Florida, and one day we went to the beach. Grandpa warned me to be careful because sometimes swimmers would get stung by a Portuguese Man o' War.

I said, "Really? They come all the way to Florida from Portugal?"

Didn't miss much.
posted by dhartung at 8:40 PM on December 22, 2008


That doesn't really answer your question though.
No, that's great. I was imagining they were single celled creatures. Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 8:53 PM on December 22, 2008


FUCKING JELLYFISH lookalikes
posted by schroedinger at 8:58 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like nanojath and Flunkie, I too am now wondering what the hell else I don't know.

I'm shaken to my very core! But I'm okay with that. Great post!
posted by barnacles at 8:58 PM on December 22, 2008


^ "zooid" doesn't exist in wikipedia. That explains everything.

But of course we forget or can't even internalize that each one of us is just a zillion little dudes working "en colonie".
posted by troy at 9:01 PM on December 22, 2008


Cool post. I always thought a Portuguese Man "O War was a jelly fish. Used to see them all the time in Jamaica, West Indies, as a kid, learned from my dad that one could pick them up by the sail. Went YouTubing for other vids and came across this one of a Man 'O War eating a fish, a nudibranch eating the Man 'O War and a turtle attacking the same Man 'O War.

And that money link of yours, furtive, is amazing. wow.
posted by nickyskye at 9:11 PM on December 22, 2008


Re: the money link

American TV needs moar reaction shots
posted by grobstein at 9:13 PM on December 22, 2008


Oh man... nickyskye's turtle, nudibranch, man o' war video is quite something. Though I have to say that the narration makes me appreciate David Attenborough that much more.
posted by Kattullus at 9:20 PM on December 22, 2008


Zooidberg.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:30 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fuck, what else don't I know?!

Almost everything.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:37 PM on December 22, 2008


Humans make something similar to these called 'cities.'
posted by mullingitover at 9:41 PM on December 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Mind duly blown. Mr. Money Link struck me as rather Lovecraftian, at home in the trackless seas or in the endless void between stars...
posted by Samizdata at 9:52 PM on December 22, 2008


^ or the under-ice seas of Europa.
posted by troy at 10:16 PM on December 22, 2008


Getting stung by a man o' war really fucking hurts.
posted by rtha at 10:34 PM on December 22, 2008


What I find fascinating is that exploration of the depths of the oceans is still a very-much adolescent discipline, at best -- it's not much easier to put a human at the bottom of the Marianas trench than it is to put on in orbit, or on the moon. When we say "out there," we might just as well mean "down there." The oceans are a crazy place, but you've got to consider this: The depths at least, are a much more stable environment that's been inhabited by life for at least 2 billion years longer than these rocky shores. They cover the majority of the planet. We are the newcomers to their world, inhabiting its most inhospitable reaches.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:10 AM on December 23, 2008


one in orbit. Bring the edit window!
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:11 AM on December 23, 2008


Tool-using cephalopods? Holy hell!

"Blanket octopuses are immune to the poisonous Portuguese man o' war, whose tentacles the female rips off and uses later for defensive purposes" (via).
posted by jquinby at 8:49 AM on December 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


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