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.
An archaeologist analyzing a pile of prehistoric human poop found the remains of an entire viper, including a fang. Researcher Elanor Sonderman was studying the indigenous people who, 1500 years ago, used a cave in Texas’s Lower Pecos canyonlands as a shelter and bathroom. One way archaeologists learn about a long-gone civilization’s diet and health […]
Tatsunori Iwamura, 61, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Japan’s Matsuyama University, was busted for teaching his students how to make MDMA (aka Molly/Ecstasy) and 5F-QUPIC, a cannabinoid agonist. At some point, Iwamura had a license to manufacture illegal drugs for academic purposes but it had expired. From The Guardian: Local drug enforcement authorities believe 11 […]
The new episode of the always-fascinating Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast is a play-through of the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials attached to the Voyager I and II space probes launched in 1977. Listen below. The Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music […]
From your apartment door to your bike lock, it’s not uncommon to carry a number of different keys on your keyring, but that doesn’t make it any more bearable when you’re fussing to find the right one or deal with the infamous pocket bulge. The KeySmart Pro’s smart design cuts down on key clutter and […]
Happy DNA Day! April 25 is a day to recognize deoxyribonucleic acid – better known as the molecule that holds the code to our entire genetic makeup. What better way to celebrate than with a complete ancestry test that’s about more than just satisfying idle curiosity about your family tree? The lab techs at Vitagene use […]
For musicians, clubgoers or anyone in the thick of a loud environment, earplugs aren’t just an option. If you plan on keeping your hearing through sustained exposure to levels over 85 decibels (roughly the sound of a blender), they’re a must. The good news is, most earplugs will muffle the sound. The bad news is, […]