The moon jellyfish

moon-jellyfish_198x198Jellyfish are fascinating beings and although, nobody would actually like to come into contact with them, we are mesmerized by them and admire their shapes, colors and almost etheric bodies, which are floating through the water – like entities from another world. And lo behold, there is also one kind that the Moon lent his name to: the »moon jellyfish« (lat. aurelia aurita).

Also in various other languages, you can find the word »moon« in the name these jellyfish:

• »moon jellyfish« (English)
• »Mondqualle« (German)
• »méduse lune« (French)
• »medusa luna« (Spanish)
• »medusa-da-lua« (Portuguese)

Their name derives from their white, round curved bell and the ability to glow, which makes them look like little orbs.

The moon jellyfish can reach a diameter up to 15 in and can be found in almost all the oceans of this world. They mostly feed on plankton and other organisms like for example small mollusks. Just like all jellyfish, it consists almost entirely of water, has neither bones, nor brain, nor heart. Interestingly enough, one of its main predators is the moonfish (Mola Mola), one of the biggest bony fish in the world.

Jellyfish have not been of great interest for scientists in the early days, until a few remarkable qualities were discovered of this approx. 670 million years old species. Jellyfish contain a gene, which makes it possible to regrow body parts, for example, a lost tentacle. That this fact makes scientists intrigued, is obvious. And also the ability to glow is of great use to research, because the light creating substances can be used to mark genes and hence cells in order to examine their behavior. Simply ingenious what nature has got in store for us!

Photo: Luc Viatour (www.lucnix.be)

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