[This was written by Fran Siebrits and published online by Wild Magazine http://www.wildcard.co.za/, 2011]

Life is quite beautiful seen through one pair of eyes. But imagine what the world would look like through 24 eyes.

If you have come into contact with a box jellyfish before, you would remember. They are notorious for their nasty sting, but apart from that they appear to be pretty creatures simple. Right? Well, you might give them a bit more time if you knew they could view the world in a way we can only begin to imagine.

Recent studies have shown that box jellyfish have four different kinds of eyes, making up no less than 24 eyes. What is of more interest, though, is that these jellies constantly have four of these eyes monitoring the world above the water surface, regardless of their orientation whilst in motion. In areas such as mangrove swamps, these eyes play a particular function in navigation.

This may not seem like a big deal, but given the fact that jellies lack a brain and advanced behaviour, this form of visually guided navigation is pretty impressive. It suggests that the abilities of these seemingly simple animals have been underestimated in the past.

Their unique array of eyes has been known for centuries, as has their ability to respond to light, avoid obstacles and control their rate of swimming. But the latest research shows that they can detect the world above the water too.

Scientists have proved that box jellyfish are able to navigate using this radical visual system. These eyes explain how box jellyfish are capable of managing complex sensory tasks without the help of a brain. They have specific eyes for specific functions. Each eye deals with the task at hand, limiting the need to communicate information to a brain.

More research is being done into how their simple nervous systems can support such advanced behaviour. So watch this space …

Source: Cell Press (2011, April 30). Through unique eyes, box jellyfish look out to the world above the water. ScienceDaily. Viewed online [http://www.sciencedaily.com¬/releases/2011/04/110428123938.htm]