Our research group (Evolutionary Genetics Group, University of Zurich) has received a letter from a special needs child who has kindly asked us to identify three jellyfish species.

Unfortunately, the letter does not include anything else except three rather low quality cutouts from what I assume is a childrens book. Nobody in our lab has any knowledge about jellyfish taxonomy so any help is greatly appreciated.

cutout 1 cutout 2 cutout 3


1 Answer 1


Be warned that these are just best guesses - as you said yourself, these aren't great images for identification as they appear to be simple drawings:

1) this looks a lot like Aurelia aurita - though the lack of any internal patterning in the drawing makes me think perhaps otherwise. Aurelia Aurita Aurelia Aurita 2

image source: https://www.leisurepro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/shutterstock_272438348.jpg, https://holidays-majorca.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Aurelia-Aurita-S-300x225.jpg

2) possibly a Turritopsis dohrnii or nutricala - if so then this is the 'immortal' jellyfish. shape of bell is correct and the lappets seem reasonably close, it's just the internal structures that I'm not sure about. Turritopsis dohrnii

image source: https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/shared_resources/media/irukandji-jellyfish-in-far-north-18836_400x322.jpg

3) Very unsure about this one, but potentially a Atolla wyvillei? definitely has some visual features in common and I can't find anything else that's similar. I can also see how an artist would derive that image from this species. Atolla manubrium Atolla Manubrium 2

Image source: https://www.mindenpictures.com/cache/pcache2/90194947.jpg, https://c8.alamy.com/comp/E45A4H/deepsea-medusa-jellyfish-atolla-manubrium-gulf-of-maine-atlantic-E45A4H.jpg

I hope these at least give a starting point and are of some help, I think the nature of those images will make it hard to get many better answers. Good luck!!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you very much! I did get in touch with Lisa Gershwin via email as well. Species ID I got from her are: 1: Aequorea victoria, 2: Polyorchis penicillatus, 3: Atolla wyvillei. But I think based on the photo quality one cannot be 100% sure. In any case, I'm sure the kid will be excited and I will send him the full list with all species proposed. $\endgroup$
    – Sam
    Jun 28, 2019 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I defer to her better judgment! They certainly fit better than my ones... I'm chuffed to bits that I got Atolla wyvillei right though! $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2019 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ -1. Looks like your 1st 2 are wrong. Good job on the third. (You can edit if you think you can improve your answer) $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2019 at 13:44

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