Domain: Eukarya

Kingdom: Animalia

Domain: Eukarya

Phylum: Cnidaria

Class: Scyphozoa

Order: Semaeostomeae

Family: Cyaneidae

Genus: Cyanea

Species: Cyanea capillata 


This phylogenetic tree of life is coutresy of Gribaldo S. on Wikimedia Commons.

 Domain Eukarya

The Lion's Mane jellyfish is classified within the Eukarya because it possesses a true nucleus with multiple strands of DNA and membrane bound organelles.  Another example of an organism within the domain Eukarya is Salvia officinalis, commonly known as sage. 

Kingdom Animalia

The Lion's Mane jellyfish are in the kingdom Animalia which have several defining characteristics: multicelluarity, non-alternation of generation life cycle, no cell walls, and heterotrophic (does not undergo photosynthesis).  Another example of a venomous organism under the broad kingdom of Animalia is the Eciton hamatum, more commonly known as the army ant.


Phylum Cnidaria

The Lion's Mane jellyfish is clearly under the phylum Cnidaria for several reasons.  All Cnidarians are diploblastic (meaning two tissues), presents radial symmetry, have one opening as the mouth and anus, and all Cnidarians have cnidocytes (stinging cells) that hold nematocysts.  Another example of a Cnidarians is Chironex fleckeri, commonly known as the Box jellyfish. If you already know about the popular Box jelly, try checking out its smaller friend Irukandji jellyfish (Carukia barnesi).

On the tree above you can see the class Scyphozoa has been separated from the Cubozoans.  This phylogeny is well accepted because of its use of molecular tools and several other techniques to distinguish the two classes. To find out what separates it from the Cubozoans just keep reading! This phylogenetic tree was obtained through  Schierwater B. on Wikimedia Commons.

Class Scyphozoa

The phylogenetic position of the Scyphozoans have been up for debate, it is unclear what the most primitive class of Cnidarians are.  Scyphozoans are known for their large size and absence of a velum.  All Scyphozoans, including Cyanea capillata, have two phases in their life cycle: polyp (sessile) and medusa (free living).  The Scyphozoans are known as the "true jellyfishes".  Another very interesting Scyphozoan you should take a look at  is Aurelia aurita, commonly known as the Moon jelly.


Order Semaeostomeae

The Lion's Mane jellyfish is placed under the order Semaeostomeae because of several characteristics.  A few basic features that define this Order are that they lack coronal grooves, have a pedalia, and a gastric septa in the medusa stage of their life cycle.  A great example of an organism in this order is the Pacific Sea Nettle. 

 The phylogenetic tree above was created through PNAS by Audrey Springer and Diane Sullenberger.  This phylogeny is based on rDNA sequences used to identify molecular phylogenetic species. 


Family Cyaneidae

A few characteristics that the Lion's mane has that places it under the family Cyaneidae are that the stomach (with radiating pouches) divides into numerous branches of canals ending in marginal lappets, without a ring canal, complex gonads, and also the tentacles arise with some distance from the margin.  The Image on the right is a Cyanea capillata, and is one of two well known jellyfish in the family Cyaneidae. 


Genus Cyanea

The taxonomy of the genus Cyanea  is not agreed upon. Some feel that all of the species should be treated as one, but most agree that at least the Lion's Mane jellyfish and the Blue jellyfish are distinct species because of DNA testing.  The picture on the left is a Blue jellyfish, which is the only other well studied jellyfish in the genus Cyanea. If you are find blue organisms fascinating you should check out Dendrobates azureus (Blue poison dart frog)!



Species Cyanea capillata

 Cyanea capillata has several common names around the world: Lion's Mane jellyfish, Winter jellyfish, Sea Bubbler, and the Hair jellyfish.  The first part of its name "Cyanea" means two rocky islands in Latin.  But the name Lion's Mane and Hair jellyfish more likely came from the many long hair like tentacles, which makes sense, because the Latin meaning of capillata is long hair   To the right of this text, you can see an image of the Cyanea capillata's tentacles at a great angle! If you only like the Lion's Mane jellyfish because of its name, you should check out the incredibly venomous  Lion Fish.



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