Today’s Top Science Headline –Jellyfish Have Superpowers –“Surviving of All Five of Earth’s Major Extinction Events”

Jellyfish

 

Jellyfish, largely unchanged for at least 500 million years, surviving all five major extinction events in the Earth’s past that wiped out 99% of all life, are among the most abundant organisms in the sea. Recent research suggests there are about 38 million ton of them just in the mesopelagic, the upper 200 meters of ocean. What’s more, they are common in all oceans and have colonized the majority of marine habitats including the deep sea.


One reason they are so common, writes author Phillip Lamb, a marine biologist at the University of East Anglia in The Conversation, is that contrary to appearances, a body made from jelly is a very successful strategy. Gelatinous bodies have evolved independently three times and have existed,  largely unchanged, for at least 500 million years, surviving all five major extinction events in the Earth’s past that wiped out 99% of all life.

 

Many jellies have evolved unique abilities, some of which seem almost supernatural. Comb jellies produce mesmerizing bio-luminescent displays. One tropical species has formed a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae, which act like their own personal solar panels and let them obtain energy straight from the sun. Other species can produce copious amounts of offspring: large moon jellyfish females have been witnessed releasing over 400,000 young at a time.

 

 

The pièce de résistance is surely their second chance at youth. When conditions are unfavourable, certain species including compass, barrel, and moon jellyfish can reverse their development and effectively turn back into jelly-children in order to wait out the hard times.

Continue Reading at The Conversation

Image Credit: With thanks to ScienceABC 

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