Helpful Jellyfish

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Jellyfish usually bring up painful memories, and for good reason! Jellyfish sting about 150 million people around the world each year. Their tentacles can sting even after a jellyfish has died. One species of jellyfish, known as the Box Jellyfish, has enough venom to kill 60 people!

So, do these seemingly venomous creatures have anything nice to contribute? Their proteins do! In May, three scientists, Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Tsien, received Nobel Prizes for their research on the protein GFP, which makes certain jellyfish emit a greenish-blue neon color. The fluorescent color helps scientists see what happens inside of cells of patients with Alzheimer’s and certain cancers. In addition, this nifty protein can attach to molecules, allowing scientists to follow developments occurring within humans. They may be scary on the outside, but their insides might keep us alive longer!

Here are some other facts about jellyfish:

  • Having existed on the earth for more than 650 million years, jellyfish are older than dinosaurs!
  • Scientists have identified over 200 species of jellyfish, but they believe that more species live in the deepest depths of the ocean.
  • When traveling together, these marine animals are called a “bloom.”
  • While smaller species of jellyfish are the size of a thumbnail, larger species can be over 100 feet in diameter and length!
  • Even with 24 eyes, jellyfish are still far-sighted.
  • Jellyfish swallow their food whole, since they don’t have teeth.
  • Jellyfish are always growing!


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