Scientists discover unusual deep-sea siphonophore

deep-sea siphonophore
photo by Nautilus Live

Scientists discovered this remarkable creature, called a siphonophore, while exploring the ocean floor with a submarine.

Although it looks a bit like a sawfish, it’s actually a relative of corals and jellies. Like its cnidarian cousins, the siphonophore sports a gelatinous body and stinging cells that it uses to take down prey, such as fish.

What sets siphonophores apart from their relatives is their structure. Rather than having a single body with different organs to do particular tasks, siphonophores are actually colonies of individuals. The specialized individuals work together to perform basic body functions–much like our organs do.

The fringe dangling along the side of the critter are its tentacles, equipped with stinging cells. Such tentacles are similar to (but much shorter than) those found on the Portuguese man-of-war. The best known siphonophore, the Portuguese man-of-war uses its sail to drift along the ocean surface, dragging its long tentacles through the water. Winds can blow them onto beaches, where people can receive nasty stings.

Did you know? Siphonophores are some of the longest animals in the world, measuring a whopping 40 meters (131 feet) in length. source

Want to know more?
Check out this exciting video of the creature’s first moments on film.



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