Team work got a whole new dimension when the analysis of a marine colony creature, dubbed Nanomia bijuga found how the individuals team up to ensure the colonial body’s movement and survival.
This fascinating creatures, related to jellyfish and even resembling them in appearance, are in fact highly organized colonies of organism, ranked according to their tasks. Nanomia bijuga is a physonect siphonophore in scientific terms.
If you remember the deepwater spaghetti monster brought to light in the past week, you will know these creatures are part of the same family. As in the case of this other siphonophore, the organisms making up the larger colonial body have specific functions.
In this case, the young and the old are coming together as one and in doing so coordinate their motions in a perfect example of labor division.
The study, published in the Nature Communications journal reports that the younger organisms, found on the top of the colonial body’s stem, are key for the entire colony’s steering and turning in the water.
They’re jet propulsion isn’t as strong as that of the older individuals, yet their slightest move can steer the whole organism in the right or wrong direction. According to John H. Costello of Providence College, as well as the Marine Biological Laboratory of Woods Hole:
“This is a highly efficient system in which no developmental stage is wasted”.
Indeed it is. While the youngsters are steering and turning the colonial body through the water, the elders, located lower down the stem and having much more powerful jet propulsion, are thrusting the colonial body simultaneously as they are trying to reach the surface of the ocean.
Here, the nocturnal Nanomia bijuga is feeding on plankton or smaller organisms found on the surface waters. During the day, the siphonophore is keeping close to the deepwater hideouts, where it is safe from predators.
According to the findings, the colonial body travels approximately 660 feet daily. It is impressive considering how much individual and team work goes into the effort. The older individuals were described by the scientists analysing them as an adult marathon athlete who, while running is also towing an object the mass of his own body.
But the effort would be half wasted were it not for the youngster of the Nanomia bijuga who act as the ‘long lever arm’ of the colonial body, similar to the often overlooked but key role of a door handle in opening a door.
The analysis of the Nanomia bijuga and the individuals composing the colonial body was conducted using video footage.
Photo Credits: barringtonreview.com