Box jellyfish have 4 unique eyes to view world above the water!

April 30th, 2011 - 11:29 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 30 (ANI): Scientists have known for more than a century that box jellyfish had a unique array of eyes. It was known that they could rely on vision to respond to light, avoid obstacles, and control their rate of swimming.

Now, they have evidence how these eyes are used-four of a box jellyfish’s 24 eyes are always peering up out of the water, no matter how the body is oriented.

These four eyes allow the jellyfish to navigate their way around the mangrove swamps in which they live.

“It is a surprise that a jellyfish - an animal normally considered to be lacking both brain and advanced behavior - is able to perform visually guided navigation, which is not a trivial behavioral task,” said Anders Garm of the University of Copenhagen.

“This shows that the behavioral abilities of simple animals, like jellyfish, may be underestimated,” he said.

Studying the box jellyfish species, Tripedalia cystophora, which lives between the prop roots in Caribbean mangrove swamps, the researchers found that four of the species’ eyes serve a special purpose.

It turned out that those four eyes cover precisely the visual field needed to see through the water’s surface up into the world above.

The researchers calculated that the jellies should be able to detect the mangrove canopy from a distance of at least eight meters.

Behavioral experiments of the jellies in the field supported those conclusions, revealing that the jellyfish can use those eyes to navigate based on their view of the canopy alone.

The study is published online in the current issue of Current Biology. (ANI)

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