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Siphonophore

Curious Creatures

This strange-looking creature is a siphonophore. Some are only about the size of a nickel, but others can stretch as much as 130 feet, making them among the longest animals on the planet. Siphonophores are made up of interconnected individuals, or zooids, each specialized to perform a specific function such as swimming, reproducing, or feeding. One siphonophore can have hundreds of stomachs and mouths—and numerous stinging tentacles. Although most species live in the open ocean or deep sea, one surface-dwelling siphonophore may be painfully familiar to beach-goers: the Portuguese Man-of-War. (Photo by Larry Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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