Kunstformen der Natur,
We’re not quite there yet – but in late summer or early autumn, balls of colourless jelly the size of a gooseberry are washed up on the shores all around the British Isles.
They are also known as comb jellies and have wondrous qualities that are quite honestly amazing – nature is wonderful. If sea gooseberries are dropped into a rock pool or a jar of sea water, eight rows of iridescent plates and pair of trailing tentacles become visible.
These plates are used to propel the sea gooseberry in the water, while the tentacles capture plankton, often herring larvae, drawing the plankton up into its mouth, which is on the underside of its body.
Light diffracting along
the comb rows.
The right lower portion of the
body is regenerating from
The comb rows produce a rainbow effect, which is not caused by bioluminescence, but by the scattering of light as the combs move.
Their chief enemy is a related species, whose diet is almost entirely sea gooseberries, and is itself eaten by cod. Almost all Ctenophores (comb jellies) are predators .... preying on the others in the food chain, or other plankton.
All sea gooseberries are hermaphrodites which cross-fertilise one another to produce the next generation of larvae.
While we’re at it ...S for shock extra information too! ... I had always thought plankton were microscopic plants ... but in fact plankton refer to any drifting organisms – animals, plants, archaea (single-celled organisms) or bacteria that inhabit the upper layers of open water bodies.
Sea gooseberries is a generic name for a very prehistoric ancestor – and that the group Ctenophores came into existence after the sponges, but before the sea anemones and corals, which have a ‘sister’ lineage of the jellyfish and hydras.
It is thought that the common ancestor of modern ctenophores was relatively recent, and perhaps was lucky enough to survive the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction 65.5 million years ago, while other lineages perished.
This large-scale mass extinction of animal and plant species in a geologically extremely short space of time is believed to have created a major boundary in life’s existence and lead to a massive disruption in Earth’s ecology.
Who thought that a simple creature such as a Sea Gooseberry would provide such interesting information ... or that we would travel in time so far ... or that I would stretch the British connection a little ...
This is Sea Gooseberry – that is what S is for ..
Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside
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