FIRST PICTURES: "Predator" Corals Eat Jellyfish

FIRST PICTURES: ''Predator'' Corals Eat Jellyfish
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November 19, 2009--Sorry, kids—scientists have not discovered the first known bubblegum-blowing sea creature. But they have found the only known corals to eat adult jellyfish, a new study says.

Opening wide--yes, that's a mouth--a mushroom coral ingests a roughly 4-and-a-half-inch-wide (12-centimeter) moon jellyfish (pictured) in the Red Sea in March 2009.

And this coral wasn't alone. The study, led by scientists from Israel's Bar-Ilan University and Tel Aviv University, witnessed other corals dining on the jellyfish.

Marine ecologist Jennifer Smith, who wasn't part of the study, agreed the find was unique, though she's "not entirely surprised."

Mushroom corals, which have soft bodies, have no eyes and can barely move of their own accord, marine ecologist Jennifer Smith.

"When you're dependent on things drifting [for food], anything helps," the Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor added. "You'll take any opportunity, as long as it doesn't kill you."

--Ted Chamberlain
—Photograph courtesy Omri Bronstein
 
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