DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Nematocyst (ejected tubule) from a tentacle of the box jellyfish (Carybdea alata). This box jellyfish belongs to the Cubozoa group of Cnidarians. The larval stage of Cnidarians is called the planula and it is a free swimming developmental stage. Cubozoan planulae are pear-shaped, have pigment spots that may be sensitive to light, and swim for a few days using cilia. After a planula settles, it grows into a polyp. The cubozoan polyp can crawl around and bud off more polyps. Like all cnidarians, cubozoans possess nematocysts, cells that fire a barb and transfer venom. When a nematocyst contacts something that might be prey or predator, the barb uncoils and fires from the capsule along with toxic venom. Magnification x260 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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