Extreme Jellyfish- page 2 | 40th Anniversary | Smithsonian
(Reinhard Dirscherl / Alamy)

Extreme Jellyfish

There are some 2,000 species of jellyfish. Some are tasty, others will kill you with the tap of a tentacle. Here are nine varieties that really stand out

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Crystal jellyfish
(Maura McCarthy)
The crystal jellyfish, Aequorea victoria, helped win the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Scientists from three American labs worked with the jellyfish’s green fluorescent protein, known as GFP, developing it into a key scientific tool. The glowing substance illuminates previously invisible processes inside cells and has been used to study diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

GFP has also been used for more, um, creative purposes. In 2000, French scientists spliced GFP into a white rabbit’s genome; Chicago artist Eduardo Kac claimed it was his idea, though scientists later disputed that. The resulting bunny, which glowed under black lights, triggered protests from animal rights groups. “It makes no sense to paint as we painted in caves,” Kac said in defense of his phosphorescent rabbit.

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