You may have heard that the Australian Box Jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri, has some of the most potent venom of any animal on the planet, powerful enough to kill an adult human in under two minutes. These animals can grow almost a foot-wide bell, and each animals has up to sixty tentacles, each up to three…… Continue reading What Is the Worst a Jellyfish Could Do? Irukandji Syndrome
A recent Twitter campaign, #SkypeaScientistQuestions, inspired me to write down some of the most common and most creative questions that I have gotten over the last six sessions with various classrooms through Skype a Scientist. Many of these were from 5th graders, of which only two were in coastal states and had regular access to…… Continue reading Skype a Scientist Question Roundup – Fall 2018 and Spring 2019
Two jellies have contributed to Nobel Prize winning research: The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1913 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008. In both cases the animals were actually hydrozoans: Physalia physalis, the Portuguese Man-of-War, and Aequorea victoria, the Crystal jelly. The 2008 prize was awarded for the discovery of green fluorescent protein, also…… Continue reading Man-of-War venom, and the discovery of anaphylaxis
On 3 December 2018, the first jellyfish genome was published online at Nature Ecology and Evolution. To clarify, the is the first genome of a cnidarian with a jellyfish stage (i.e. medusa). There are currently a few other jellies, like Hydra and Nematostella, that have had their genome available for several years. What was the lucky medusa-bearing…… Continue reading Stung by a Moon – Celebration of the Aurelia aurita genome
I am busy cranking away at the Smithsonian NMNH, but I wanted to share some photos of one of my favorite complex animal features: the stinging cell! Stinging cells house nematocysts, the stinging cell organelles distinctive to all cnidarians (hence the Latin translation, nettle-bearing animals). Nematocysts are thread-like capsules secreted by stinging cells that are… Continue reading Stinging Cells from the Summer!
I was inspired by a segment on the first show of Science Friday’s Cephalopod Week when Dr. Janet Voight (12:11 – 13:44) casually mentioned how the Curled Octopus envenomates its crustacean prey. Directly to the eyeball. Terrifying as that is (imagine the last thing you ever see are jaws puncturing your eyes, leaving you blind and…… Continue reading Octopi Venom, Directly to the Eyeball
Review of: J. Prentis, P., Pavasovic, A., & S Norton, R. (2018). Sea Anemones: Quiet Achievers in the Field of Peptide Toxins. Toxins, 10(1), 36. DOI:10.3390/toxins10010036 If you search the VenomZone website under the cnidarian section, you will find that most cnidarian toxins are derived from sea anemones (Class Anthozoa, order Actiniaria). My first literature review is a paper…… Continue reading Sea Anemones, Peptide Super Heros