Riley Thompson made this animation about the fascinating lifecycle of narco babies. We usually don't think of babies that grow inside their mothers as parasites, but sometimes the lines get very blurry. This is especially true in Narcomedusae, a group of poorly known jellyfish found throughout the world's oceans. Some species of Narcomedusae (affectionately called narcos by the people that study them) can grow inside their own mother, who provides nourishment and a safe environment. The narco babies can then leave their mother, find another jellyfish of an entirely different species, attach to its flesh, and thrive on the nourishment and safe environment that it provides. The physiological interaction of baby and host is similar in both cases - the host provides, the baby takes. But in one case the host is providing for its own offspring, in the other it is providing for somebody else's offspring. Thanks to Rebecca Helm (http://www.brown.edu/Faculty/Dunn_Lab/index.php?subject=People) and Fabien Lombard (http://fabien.lombard1.free.fr/indexengl.htm) for their help translating the wonderful paper on narco life cycles: Bouillon, J. (1987) Considérations sur le developpement des Narcomeduses et sur leur position phylogénétique. Indo-Malayan Zoology 4 : 189-278. Special thanks to Marjorie Thompson, Robert Sandler, and the Brown University Science Center. The music is by Tony Higgins, aka junior85: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/junior85/As_It_Happens_pts_1-5_1334/As_It_Happens_pt_5 Visit http://creaturecast.org for more stories about the unexpected world of Biology.moreless
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