May 8, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Q: Who Fights With Supercharged Harpoons?  A: Jellyfish

Weak, transparent, limp, and drifting in the water – who would have thought these creatures possess one of the most powerful weapons in the animal kingdom?  Jellyfish and hydras have stinging cells called nematocysts that fire so fast, no one has been able to catch the action of their microscopic harpoons – till now.
    EurekAlert summarized a study being reported in Current Biology1 by a team that photographed them at 1,430,000 frames per second.  They calculated the cells discharge in 700 nanoseconds (less than a millionth of a second).  The explosive charge is accelerated to 5,410,000 G’s in that brief flicker of time.  Even though the weapon weighs a mere billionth of a gram, enough pressure is created in the discharge (15 giga-pascals, the pressure range of some bullets) giving it enough oomph to penetrate even a tough crustacean shell.
    Cnidarians use these weapons for prey capture and defense.  “The researchers propose that the high speed of discharge is caused by the release of energy stored in the stretched configuration of the collagen-polymer of the nematocyst capsule wall,” the review explains.  “This ingenious solution allows the cellular process of vesicle exocytosis to release kinetic energy in the nanosecond range by a powerful molecular spring mechanism.”


1Nuchter et al., “Nanosecond-scale kinetics of nematocyst discharge,” Current Biology, Volume 16, Issue 9, 9 May 2006, Pages R316-R318, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.03.089.

When God gives an animal a technology, he doesn’t do it halfway.  (Evolutionists would have us believe jellyfish figured this out on their own, but this particular article mentioned nothing about evolution.)  Another amazing fact is that some sea slugs called nudibranchs are able to ingest these nematocysts without setting them off, and line their backs with the borrowed technology.  Figure that one out by slow, gradual, evolutionary processes.

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Categories: Amazing Facts

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