STATES CHRONICLE – There are many strange creatures on our planet. Some of them look strange, some behave strangely. Among them, there is the hydra, a small freshwater organism, a cousin of jellyfish, corals and sea anemones. Hydra is indeed very small, measuring, on average, about half an inch.
One end of the creature represents the mechanism which allows it to affix to a plant or rock while the other end is formed of tentacles which the hydra uses to poison its victims. Although this “hunting” technique has been long studied by scientists, who were fascinated by the way the creature poisons and catches its prey, the researchers haven’t paid much attention to how the hydra eats this prey.
Recently, a team of scientists from the University of California have looked into the matter and managed to observe how the hydra consumes its food. This organism’s way of eating is very particular and strange as the tiny being seems to tear apart its face to be able to ingest its prey.
Their facial cells are somehow peeled back to reveal a black mow in which food is sucked and consumed. Whatever is left over or it’s indigestible is spit back out through the same opening.
Observing hydra is not an easy task, and scientists had to genetically engineer a creature to have bioluminescent tissue, in order to make it easier for them to see how the tiny figure moves its facial cells when eating.
It turned out that the cells don’t necessarily move, but rather change their shape, being pulled back. The phenomenon resembles the way our facial muscles open or close the eyelids. The cells are very “versatile” and able to accommodate the mouth opening which in most cases becomes wider than the body.
Watching the cells, scientists observed that they are so changeable that even the cells’ nuclei seem to change form. Although it is not clear yet whether the discovery could help science or not, it is definitely another strange characteristic of the natural world.
The research is ongoing and scientists hope to figure out how the new discovery can help them in the future if they can find another use to the hydra’s most unusual trait.
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