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Why Jellyfish Float Like a Butterfly—And Sting Like a Bee | Deep Look

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 Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science
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Jellyfish don’t have a heart, or blood, or even a brain. They’ve survived five mass extinctions. And you can find them in every ocean, from pole to pole. What’s their secret? Keeping it simple, but with a few dangerous tricks.

DEEP LOOK: a new ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Get a new perspective on our place in the universe and meet extraordinary new friends. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.

--- Why do Jellyfish Sting?

Jellyfish sting to paralyze their prey. They use special cells called nematocysts. Jellyfish don’t have a brain or a central nervous system to control these stinging cells, so each one has it’s own trip wire, called a cnidocil.

When triggered, the nematocyst cells act like a combination of fishing hook and hypodermic needle. They fire a barb into the flesh of the jellyfish’s prey at 10,000 times the force of gravity – making it one of the fastest mechanisms in the animal kingdom. As the barb latches on, a thread-like filament bathed in toxin erupts from the barb and delivers the poison.

The nematocyst only works if the barb can penetrate the skin, which is why some jellies are more dangerous to humans than others. The smooth-looking tentacles of a sea anemone (a close relative of jellies that also has nematocyst cells) feel like sandpaper to the touch. Their nematocysts are firing, but the barbs aren’t powerful enough to puncture your skin.

--- Read the article for this video on KQED Science:

https://ww2.kqed.org/science/2015/09/29/why-jellyfish-float-like-a-butterfly-and-sting-like-a-bee/


--- More great DEEP LOOK episodes:

Pygmy Seahorses: Masters of Camouflage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3CtGoqz3ww

You're Not Hallucinating. That's Just Squid Skin.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wtLrlIKvJE

The Fantastic Fur of Sea Otters
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zxqg_um1TXI

--- Related videos from the PBS Digital Studios Network!

I Don't Think You're Ready for These Jellies - It’s Okay to Be Smart
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4DQQe5p5gc

Why Neuroscientists Love Kinky Sea Slugs - Gross Science
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGHiyWjjhHY

What Physics Teachers Get Wrong About Tides! | Space Time
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwChk4S99i4



--- More KQED SCIENCE:

Tumblr: http://kqedscience.tumblr.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kqedscience
KQED Science: http://ww2.kqed.org/science


Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, which is supported by HopeLab, The David B. Gold Foundation; S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation; The Vadasz Family Foundation; Smart Family Foundation and the members of KQED.

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