The Longest Now

Decentralized smarts, twenty-four eyes, crystal power: the amazing Cubozoa (box jellyfish)
Monday April 23rd 2012, 10:36 pm
Filed under: citation needed,Glory, glory, glory,indescribable

Cubozoa, or Box Jellyfish, are remarkable creatures. Among jellyfish – the oldest multi-organ creatures on the planet – they are some of the most highly developed in terms of nervous response, memory, and sensory organs. Some cubozoa species are among the most venomous creatures per weight on the planet, using a very effective poison for hunting.

They have a ‘neural ring’ which help coordinate their nervous system, the closest thing to a brain that jellyfish have been observed to have. They have some capacity for memory and to learn from experience.

They live largely in mangrove lagoons, where as many as 25 different species of Cubozoa may occupy different ecological niches, and forage at different times of day.

And they have 24 eyes, 4 of which are ‘true eyes’ with corneas and retinas – two of which can see color! They have been observed to navigate by visual cues out of the water, such as trees on shore. The 20 lesser eyes sense light more simply, and some point straight up at all times, thanks to a keen adaptation: they grow small gypsum crystals within their bodies at the base of their ‘eye-stems’, which act as a plumb bob to keep the eye pointing skyward.

In general I am no great fan of jellyfish – and can’t quite believe I am writing about them – but in this case the eyes (and angels) have it. Cubozoa are amazing.

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