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There are two species of Man o' War and they are very similar to each other, both have the same deeply bizarre structure of being composed of four "Zooids" which are basically animals that live in a bound life cycle with other animals. Way beyond commensalism or symbiosis, these organisms go through their entire life cycles together and are never apart from one another. They are, in essence an animal made of animals.

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Good Morning John,.

It was a year ago that I decided that I wanted to do a full year where every month. I make a video about a different weird animal here on the Vlogbrothers channel.

For every one of those weird animals we'd make a pin and people would be able to sign up and get those pins as I made the videos and we called it the Bizarre Beasts pin club. And this is the 12th one of those! I really loved this little project inside a project.

And we conclude with an animal that is not an animal. So do you remember that time when we were kids at the beach and there was a dead Portuguese man o' war and I stepped on it and then I was in pain for a full day? Well, because of that I have always assumed that these animals were fairly well they are common, they impact people, and they are weird enough that we probably would have spent lots of time looking.

And our lack of understanding of Portuguese man o' war isn't really down to a lack of curiosity it's down to a lack of, uh, sense. They're just very confusing A Portuguese man o' war, for example, is not an is four animals. This is upsetting.

What do you mean, Hank?? Somehow, four genetically distinct animals with their own nervous systems have combined together to create a single colonial organism. One of them is the stomach, one of them is the gonads, one of them is the floaty part and of them is the tentacles part... basically.

There's overlap. How much overlap? We don't know!

How does that overlap function? How does an animal exist with four different nervous systems? And how do those nervous systems communicate with each other?

We don't know! This is not how it's supposed to work! But life isn't supposed to work in any particular way.

It's supposed to work in the way that it works! and the Portuguese man o'war, as a colonial siphonophore works, even if it, while researching this video, it forced me to understand sentences like “As the organism grows and the pneumatosaccus expands anteriorly, new tentacular palpons grow at the base of the original gastrozooids”. And these animals...well, ok sorry...these colonial organisms...are beautiful. They're also kind of terrible of course.

They're predators. They send our their stinging tentacles up to 165 feet Some fish, however, have evolved to be able to carefully avoid those tentacles or have some imperviousness to them, which allows them to use the tentacles of the Portuguese man o' war as shelter from larger predator fish. And one species of fish has figured out how to live there and feed on the Portuguese man o' war.

These organisms are named for the sailing ships that they very roughly resemble... and they do sail… the floaty bit has a sail on the end of it and that's designed to have the wind push the man o' war so that its tentacles stretch out behind it. Otherwise the man o' war would have to swim away from its tentacles, wasting energy. They are so good at catching fish that large colonies can actually deplete fisheries!

And the gas inside of their little bubbles? 14% Carbon monoxide! So that also could kill you. Though you would have to cut it open and breathe it in... a lot... which would be questionable...

Questionable decision making. The variety of ways that evolution has figured out how to have an organism survive actually does astound me. It really does.

This has been such a fun project, and I've enjoyed so much getting a new pin in my mailbox every month along with it. And I've also felt kind of limited by the 4 minute time limit of vlogbrothers, because like, there's a lot to say about these animals. So.

So.. I'm not ending it. And I would like to announce, a new Youtube channel that you can go subscribe to right now.

It is a thing that I love to do and I want you to follow me over to Bizarre Beasts where I'll be co-hosting with Sara Suta one episode about a weird animal every month and we will be continuing the pin club as well and opening subscriptions to more people, right now if you want to sign up. I think that I can have the link to the pin club, and the channel, and the trailer all right here. John I'll see you on Tuesday.