Jellyfish are badly named. They are neither a fish nor made of jelly. Instead, their bodies are made up of 95% water and 5% solid matter. They have been in existence for at least half a billion years. Hence, they are older than dinosaurs. Surprisingly, they don’t have a brain, a heart, or lungs. You may wonder how they can possibly survive without these vital organs, but everything is for the best. They don’t have lungs because their skin is so thin that they can absorb oxygen through it. They don’t need a heart to pump blood because they don’t have any. And they have a nerve net—which is sensitive to touch—below their outer skin. They respond to the changes in their environment using signals from the nerve net, so they don’t need a brain to process complex thoughts.
Their variety is nearly endless. Most of them are umbrella-shaped and have tentacles. Some jellyfish have very long tentacles. However, they never get tangled up or sting themselves. That’s because the tentacles are very slippery and will only sting other animals. Most jellyfish have little or no vision, but they can detect light and ocean currents, which helps them to navigate and move. A few species can also recognize color and have a 360-degree view of their environment.
Jellyfish come in all sizes, from 0.5 millimeters to the giant Nomura’s jellyfish, which can measure up to two meters in diameter and weigh over 200 kilograms. While jellyfish are beautiful, they can also be dangerous. Some jellyfish toxins can be deadly to humans, such as those from the box jellyfish and the Australian Irukandji, but deaths are relatively rare given the number of jellyfish-sting victims every year. In any case, it’s better to stay out of the way of any jellyfish you may see. You can go swimming with dolphins, but you definitely want to think twice before swimming with jellyfish.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock 照片：Shutterstock 提供
Word in Use
1. vital a. 極重要的
Technology plays a vital part in our modern life.
2. pump vt. 抽送（氣體或液體）
Dad pumped air into the tire of my bike.
3. signal n. 信號
A red flag is often used as a signal for danger.
4. process vt. 處理（資料、數據等）
The machine processed the information and gave me an answer in minutes. 這臺機器處理了訊息並在幾分鐘內就給我答案。
5. variety n. 種類
The food of this restaurant is very tasty and the variety is endless.
1. be made up of... 由…組成
The poor child’s lunch was merely made up of a bowl of rice and an egg.
2. in existence 存在
That custom has been in existence for about 500 years.
3. be sensitive to sth 對某物敏感
Christine is sensitive to changes in temperature.
4. respond to sth 對某事做出反應；回應某事
Jenny didn’t respond to my question, which made me mad.
5. get / be tangled up 纏結在一起
The wires on the ground are all tangled up.
What Did You Learn?
1. What does the author mean by “everything is for the best” in the first paragraph?
(A) Ocean creatures without vital organs don’t live long.
(B) Jellyfish live just fine with what they naturally have.
(C) The numerous ocean species make life pretty easy for jellyfish.
(D) It’s best for jellyfish to live in the ocean because everything is suitable for them.
2. How long have jellyfish lived on our planet?
(A) At least 5,000,000,000 years.
(B) More than 500,000,000 years.
(C) Roughly 50,000,000 years.
(D) Less than 5,000,000 years.
3. Which of the following statements about jellyfish stings is true?
(A) They are not painful to humans.
(B) Only Nomura’s jellyfish stings are deadly.
(C) Thousands of people die from them every year.
(D) They are rarely fatal, but people should watch out for them.
4. Which of the following topics about jellyfish is NOT mentioned in the reading?
(A) Their size. (B) Their toxicity.
(C) Their diets. (D) Their appearance.
1. (B) 2. (B) 3. (D) 4. (C)
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