Jellyfish born in space? Yes, NASA sent jellyfish into space aboard the space shuttle missions, and studied their development and behavior. The jellies that developed in low-gravity orbit had trouble adjusting when they landed on earth. The problem seems to lie with learning to tell up from down.
When a jelly grows, it forms calcium sulfate crystals at the margin of its bell . These crystals are surrounded by a little cell pocket, coated in specialized hairs, and these pockets are equally spaced around the bell. When jellies turn, the crystals roll down with gravity to the bottom of the pocket, moving the cell hairs, which in turn send signals to neurons. In this way, jellies are able to sense up and down. All they need is gravity.
Compared to normal, earth-born jellyfish, the space-born jellies had trouble moving around. Their
gravity-sensing organs developed normally, but the creatures may have missed the developmental window for learning how to use them. The research could have implications for humans, who also have gravity-sensing organs in the inner ear. Could children born in zero gravity during long space journeys grow up without knowing how to learn to deal with gravity? Read more at Deep Sea News. -via Boing Boing
(Image credit: Dante Alighieri)