The Siphonophore, Apolemia lanosa:

The Ocean’s Gelatinous Christmas Tinsel

by Dr. M @ Deep Sea News

The above photo is of Apolemia lanosa a type of siphonophore belonging to phylum Cnidaria that also includes corals and jellies.  It’s basically the ocean’s way of celebrating Christmas all year long.  Like many other Cnidarians, siphonophores bud new individuals—exact clones themselves.  In a manner similar to Christmas elves although this is not proven by science. In the case of some Cnidarians, the clones never leave home so family never has to travel for the holidays. 

Basically, Santa’s reindeer if Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen were all budded from and genetically identical to Santa. In some Cnidarians, clones in the colony will specialize but among siphonophores the specialization is unrivaled. Clones will specialize for feeding, defense, locomotion or reproduction. The feeding clones catch food by tentacles equipped with cells that shoot out poisonous harpoons stinging and stunning their prey.  In the most popular of all siphonophores, the Portuguese man o’ war, with a large gas filled buoyant bladder adapted for catching the wind and sailing. 

Interestingly, all the clones are attached via a single digestive and circulatory system.  Research is still needed on which clones are adapted for drinking eggnog, singing carols, and wrapping gifts…

(read more: Deep Sea News)

photos:

T - A colony of A. lanosa. The photograph was taken from MBARI ROV Tiburon at a depth of 1150 m. Image by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

BL - The growth zone of A. rubriversa where bodies of the central stem, siphosome, form. The feeding clones have a red pigment. Image by Stefan Siebert

BR - A growth series of propulsive bodies (nectophores) of A. lanosa with the youngest on the upper lft and the oldest on the lower rt. Image by S. Siebert

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