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Speciation: The puzzling origins of clinging jellyfish

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Tracing the puzzling origins of clinging jellyfish
clinging jellyfish/Mary Carman, Woods Hole

From ScienceDaily:

Now, the first genetic study of the diversity of clinging jellyfish populations around the globe has discovered some surprising links among distant communities of jellies and also revealed there may be more than one species of the infamous stinger.

The new study shows that the story is much more complex than previously thought. The researchers uncovered a genetic match between populations of clinging jellyfish in the Vladivostok, Russia-area — specifically the area well known to cause severe sting reactions — and those found along the U.S. East Coast in the Northwest Atlantic.

“We know the two regions share one genetic variant or haplotype,” Govindarajan says. “In the Northwest Atlantic, this variant was actually most frequently found in eastern Long Island Sound. The details about how and when an invasion, or possibly multiple invasions, occurred aren’t clear. Interestingly, we also found evidence that both regions may contain native forms.”

“In the past, some people have suggested that the Atlantic and the Pacific jellies were different forms,” Govindarajan says. “Others have suggested that jellies in the Atlantic were introduced from the Pacific. But what we found doesn’t correspond exactly to either hypothesis. And it could be that what we have in the Northwest Atlantic and Northwest Pacific is not Gonionemus ‘vertens’ at all, as it has been called, but some other species of Gonionemus.”

“The study documents what we suspected, that there are different types of Gonionemus jellies and some of these types co-occur in New England,” says coauthor Carman. “Some types seem to have a toxic sting to people and some do not.” Understanding the relationship between the genetic variants and toxicity is something the researchers would like to pursue in the future. “It could very well be that the toxicity is a function of both genetics and the environment, perhaps something in the environment is triggering the toxicity,” Govindarajan says.Paper. (public access) – Annette F. Govindarajan, Mary R. Carman, Marat R. Khaidarov, Alexander Semenchenko, John P. Wares. Mitochondrial diversity in Gonionemus (Trachylina:Hydrozoa) and its implications for understanding the origins of clinging jellyfish in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. PeerJ, 2017; 5: e3205 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3205 More.

It “could very well be” that the entire concept of speciation is a mess. There is no rigorous approach to what a species even is.

Reality check: The obsessive hunt for the few and rare species that can be shown to be produced by explicitly Darwinian means (natural selection acting on random mutation) sidetracks reform. The light more rigorous approaches can shed will tend to make Darwinism even less plausible.

As it is, icons like Darwin’s finches and the Peppered Myth are mainly robust examples of textbook zombies.

See also: Researchers: Jellyfish cousin devolves to parasite “The finding represents the first case of extreme evolutionary degeneration of an animal body.”

Brainless jellyfish shows purpose Also: Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?

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9 Replies to “Speciation: The puzzling origins of clinging jellyfish

  1. 1
    Armand Jacks says:

    There is no rigorous approach to what a species even is.

    That has only been known for a century or so.

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    […] has discovered some surprising links […]

    Why does the word “surprising” seem to appear so often in research papers these days?

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

    The new study shows that the story is much more complex than previously thought.

    Why did they previously think that the story is less complex than it really is?

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    […] this is an area where more research is urgently needed.

    We’ve heard that before, haven’t we?

  5. 5
    Dionisio says:

    […] has perplexed scientists for decades.

    We’ve heard that before, haven’t we?

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    […] an urgent need for a better understanding of its origins […]

    We’ve heard that before, haven’t we?

  7. 7
    Dionisio says:

    While our study resolves some questions, it leads to many more new ones.

    We’ve heard that before, haven’t we?

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    […] in contrast with the long held assumption that […]

    We’ve heard that before, haven’t we?

  9. 9
    Dionisio says:

    More research is needed […]

    We’ve heard that before, haven’t we?

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