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Porpita porpita (Chondrophore)
NOAA - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Project Description:
There are only a few examples in VC that are not human-produced representations of a system, either natural or artificial, but plain snapshots of nature [1] [2] [3] [4]. These pictures although involving a human depiction through a camera don't result in a subsequent human understanding through any sort of knowledge map, which characterizes all the remaining projects featured in VC. The debate over the representation of a system being or not the system itself can easily drift into an interesting philosophical discussion where Alfred Korzybski's expression "The map is not the territory" is surely one of many possible points of view.

Having that said, I'm opening the fifth (so far) exception in VC to include the startling and intriguing Chondrophore or Porpita porpita, a gelatinous Cnidarians superficially resembling jellyfish. Measuring just one inch in diameter, the Porpita, shown here, isn't even a single organism, but a colony made up of an orderly cooperative polyps or chondrophores. The central gas-filled disc (which is of golden brown colour and hardened by chitin-like material) is essential to keeping the colony afloat. The radiating "tentacles" of Porpita are in fact individual zooids, each of which is specialized for a particular function, such as digestion, prey capture, or reproduction. Porpita is a member of a small but very widespread group of hydrozoan cnidarians, the Chondrophorina.

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Manuel Lima |