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Janna Nawroth
Graduate Student

Reminiscent of a blossom opening its petals, this newly budded jellyfish medusa seen from below slowly relaxes its eight lappets from a curled-up posture, before it drifts away. However, this flower is not a sign of peace: It precedes the next sudden contraction and is of fatal consequence for any copepod or brine shrimp careless enough to venture into the range of the sweep. The ephyra's lappets are endowed with sticky and stinging cells, and the digestive filaments in its center are ready to break down immobilized prey shoved under the bell. The lappets, or labia, are only present in juvenile animals; over time intermediate tissue will fill the interlabial gaps and form the familiar umbrella of adult jellyfish medusa. (Species: Aurelia aurita. Actual size: 4 mm diameter when fully extended. Imaging technique: Light microscope.)


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The 2008 Art of Science Competition was made possible by a grant from the Moore-Hufstedler Fund.
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