Living by Light

Jellyfish aren't reknowned for specialized organs; they lack brains, guts, hearts, and lungs. But some of them have eyes in spades. Mo writes on Neurophilosophy that box jellyfish have "24 eyes contained within a club-shaped sensory apparatus called a rhopalium, one of which is suspended from each side of the cube-shaped umbrella by a flexible, muscular stalk." A crystal called a stratolith weighs down each of the four rhopalia and ensures that the "upper lens eyes remain in a strictly upright position, regardless of body orientation." For the first time, researchers have shown that the four upper lens eyes can detect terrestrial landmarks above the surface of the water, helping lagoon-dwelling jellyfish to keep their bearings. And on Oscillator, Christina Agapakis takes a peek at the future, when light-sensitive proteins delivered to the retina by a virus could help blind people to see.

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Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature) was a landmark in biological illustration. Published in 1904, it was lavishly illustrated with 100 exquisitely detailed lithographic plates, including this one, showing nine different species of cubomedusae, or box jellyfish. It has been…
I study deep-corals (gorgonians mostly) but I am fascinated by all things cnidarian (sea anemones, hydroids, jellyfish, corals). These are suspension feeders that filter food from the water column, so I am also inevitably drawn to dabblings in physical oceanography, and I will try to post on these…
Most jellyfish drift freely in the ocean current but the dangerous box jellyfish is an active swimmer. To help it navigate, the box jellyfish has 24 eyes that dangle from their cube-shaped bodies. One set of eyes is remarkably well developed and can detect color, size and shape, similar to our own…
Most jellyfish drift freely in the ocean current but the dangerous box jellyfish is an active swimmer. To help it navigate, the box jellyfish has 24 eyes that dangle from their cube-shaped bodies. One set of eyes is remarkably well developed and can detect color, size and shape, similar to our own…

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