Wednesday 3 January 2018

Hanging Stomach Jellyfish

Stomotoca atra
I'm sure you've heard of beer-bellied men and pot-bellied pigs...

But what about Hanging Stomach Jellyfish?

Image: WoRMS Editorial Board
These cute, little jellyfish come from the Pacific side of North America, from Alaska all the way down to California.

Their cone-shaped bell is about 2.5 cm (an inch) across and just as tall, with around eighty tiny tentacles and two large ones dangling from the edge. The bell is completely transparent, which gives us a good view of just about everything. Not that there's much to see. This is a jellyfish (a hydromedusa to be exact), which means they have fewer organs than the average face.

Hanging Stomach Jellyfish look like umbrellas. The handle part that runs down from the middle of the bell is called the manubrium.

Unfortunately, it doesn't end with an ergonomic, non-slip grip for maximum stability in the windiest of conditions...

Image: Susan Middleton
It ends in four, puckered lips, instead. Now the jellyfish can fill that hanging stomach with other smaller jellyfish. And what look like umbrella spokes extending into the bell are actually four radial canals which allow digested food to slosh their way into those all-important swimming muscles.

Did I miss something? Ah, yes. You see that folded up stuff wrapped around the manubrium like some kind of cloth? It would be cool if it was something you could pull down over the handle to keep your brolly-hand warm but no, they're gonads. Yup. Not only does this jellyfish have a hanging stomach, it has hangin gonads, too.

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Jellyfish, by contrast, don't do hearts.

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