Clashing colonies of sea anemones fight as organized armies with distinct castes of warriors, scouts, reproductives and other types, according to a new study.
Warrior anemones reach over from several rows behind the front to attack animals from a neighboring colony. (Rick Grosberg/UC Davis photo)
The sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima lives in large colonies of genetically identical clones on boulders around the tide line. Where two colonies meet they form a distinct boundary zone. Anemones that contact an animal from another colony will fight, hitting each other with special tentacles that leave patches of stinging cells stuck to their opponent.
David J. Ayre from the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Rick Grosberg from UC Davis have previously taken individual anemone polyps from separate colonies and studied fighting strategies one-on-one. But thats like trying to understand two armies by taking a single soldier from each side, Grosberg said.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
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