Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Holy Shit, Jellyfish!


I mean...look at that thing. What? Whose idea was it to make a living creature of the oceans of this Earth look like that? Why would you do that, nature? What's the deal? What happened here? Just for a start: depending on the species, jellyfish bodies are between 95 and 98% water. Plain old water, plus two percent fleshy, translucent membrane.

They have no brains. No specialized digestive system. No blood. No nervous system. No vascular system. Just a one-size-fits-all cavity where food meanders its way in and is passively digested. The gastrovascular cavity is basically a hipster nonchalantly swaying to the music at a Death Cab for Cutie show, because they're not as hip and unknown as they used to be and it doesn't want to look too enthusiastic.
Ben Gibbard
"Yeah, Ben Gibbard is alright, I guess," he said, tears glistening on his cheeks as "Transatlanticism" reached its climax
The only thing jellyfish can consciously do (if you can even call it consciously, which you probably can't) is flex a single muscle that kind of, sort of, in a way, gives them control over their motion. Like spreading your arms and legs out to slightly alter your heading while you're falling from 20,000 feet without a parachute.

The way they reproduce is weird as hell, too. A bunch of them get together and basically make a big old cocktail of sperm and eggs, which eventually leads to mass fertilization. The eggs hatch into little larvae called planulae, which stick to a firm surface and grow into polyps. Polyps are essentially what you'd expect to get if you cross-bred a jellyfish with a sea anemone, and if there are any mad scientists reading this and thinking that sounds like a good idea, please don't. You are the most boring mad scientist in history. Stop it.
Jellyfish Reproduction Cycle
If this diagram shows up in your plot to take over the world, there are several somethings wrong with you.

So the polyp grows up a bit, and suddenly things take a turn. In many cases, the polyp will spontaneously just...clone itself. Because jellyfish are both sexually and asexually reproductive organisms. And then sometimes, just for kicks, a few polyps will decide they're not in a place right now where they can afford to live on their own, so they'll find some roommates and form a colony. Not to save on rent money, mind you. They share a goddamn stomach. Because of course they do.

Finally, they fly the coop to become an ephyra, which is more like what you imagine when you think of a jellyfish. Then it grows tentacles, and becomes a medusa. Then it haunts your nightmares and inspires Nintendo to design a creature that can literally suck your life force out of your upper torso.
If you played games in the '80s and '90s, you are now having PTSD-esque flashbacks.
Holy shit.

"Ben Gibbard 2" by Sharat Ganapati - originally posted to Flickr as Ben Gibbard. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

1 comment:

  1. LMAO - you're quite funny, thanks for the article.