Along with this lovely jellyfish photo that she posted to the BoingBoing Flickr Pool, Kate Tomlinson asks, "How come they don't sting each other?"
Not a bad question. How does a creature with no brain—but with long, venomous tentacles—manage to travel in dense packs without things getting really socially awkward? I took Kate's query to Southern Fried Scientist, a science blogger who doubles as a graduate student studying deep-sea biology.
Jellyfish can and do sting other jellyfish, he says, but really only when they're hunting jellies of another species. They don't sting the other members of their same-species swarm. Neither (luckily) do they zap themselves. It works because jellyfish tentacles aren't inherently poisonous. Rather, it's the nematocytes—special cells that line the tentacles. When touched, nematocytes fire off microscopic quills that lodge in a victim and pump in the venom. But this weapon comes with a built-in safety switch.
"Jellyfish have chemoreceptors that turn the nematocyte on or off," Southern Fried Scientist says. If the receptors pick up the chemical signature of the jellyfish's own species, nothing happens. Everything else is assumed to be potential prey (or, at least, a potential threat) and, thus, worth firing upon.
Yes, that is actually Space.com’s brilliant headline on this story about a new discovery from data collected in 1986 by NASA’s intrepid spacecraft. When the probe neared Uranus (heh heh), it measured the planet’s surrounding magnetic field. Recently, NASA scientists Gina DiBraccio and Daniel Gershman analyzing Voyager’s old data found a “wobble” in Uranus’s magnetosphere […]
Watch Quick test! from atinyworld on www.twitch.tv What the world needs now are tardigrades, sweet tardigrades. ‘A tiny world’ is a fun little internet window into the microscope with Julie Laurin, who lives in Ottowa, Ontario.
Cocaine, as they say, is one hell of a drug. In fact, it was recently shown in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science to have greatly helped the re-wilding a good chunk of Columbia. How you might ask? Pablo Escobar’s hippos, which are still hanging around breeding in Columbia […]
With the world in the midst of unprecedented upheaval, there’s plenty to be concerned about out there. But while there are obviously far weightier issues facing us all right now, a true golfer will admit that being cooped up inside and missing the fairways and greens is its own little personal tragedy. To help soothe […]
Whether you’re a worried preparer for the worst or just a little concerned about what’s ahead, you may have…overdone it during your last trip to the store. Maybe you picked up some extra frozen goods or a larger stockpile of cheeses or dairy products than usual. And your fridge or freezer is now likely packed […]
Every new year, people vow to read more. Of course, it seldom actually happens, but we all wish we had more time to slow down, pick up one of the books off the bedside table we’ve been meaning to get through, and dive in. If we can find any silver lining to all the COVID-19 […]