Talk:Portuguese man o' war

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WikiProject iconPortuguese man o' war has been listed as a level-5 vital article in Biology (Animals). If you can improve it, please do.
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"Gonozooids are responsible for reproduction." Really? How do the gonozooids go about creating new individuals of the *other* three parts of the organism? What does 'responsible for' actually mean? Do the parts reproduce by cell division and then grow? If so, how do the new cells/individual parts organize themselves into a new Man O'War? If the three parts don't all reproduce at the same time, are there Men O'War floating around (temporarily, at least) lacking the full 'set of parts'? It would be nice if there was a separate section on reproduction, I'd bet the details are quite interesting, whatever they are. (talk) 13:07, 6 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

UPDATE: Comet Tuttle (above) seems to have answer much of this. One further thing is unclear - who many distinct genomes are involved? From Comet's comments it would seem to be just one; and the whole many individuals/colony issue a red herring (i.e. just as true of any other multicellular animal). (talk) 13:21, 6 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Actually, Comet Tuttle asked the question, and I answered it. You have it absolutely right, it is a red herring. A Physalia colony is little different than a tree, which can bud roots, branches, leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds. All of these tree parts work in synergy, have specialized functions, are physically attached to each other, and can't survive by themselves. Like the buds of a Physalia, they are not individuals. And we do not call a tree a colony of 'treeids'. So why is a Physalia called a colony of zooids?
Ah, there is the crux of this entire dilemma. Both the term 'zooid' and 'colony' are slightly misused in this instance. Normally in biology, the term zooid is used to describe an independently motile cell (or organized body) within an organism, like a spermatozoon. The term can also be used to describe an independent organism produced asexually by budding or fission. Normally, in a coral colony, an asexually budded polyp matures into a complete organism, connected to the entire colony while sharing nutrients and other essentials, but capable of survival if physically separated from the parent. Hydrozoans, on the other hand, bud connected polyps that mature into specialized entities that also share essentials with the entire group, but in this case, they can not survive if separated from the rest of the animal. It is my humble opinion that the term, colony, when used to describe an hydrozoan individual leads to a misunderstanding of its true nature.
When a plant has an underground runner that creates sprouts along its length that mature into independent plants, that could be described as a 'collection' of individual plants. However, a 'collection' of dependent parts within each individual plant would not be analogous to a 'colony'. It is amazing that hydrozoans have taken the budding of colonial coral polyps to the point that the parts are synergistic, but I really fail to see how that is more impressive than a tree. Didn't Joyce Kilmer say that first?
Gseymour (talk) 21:13, 7 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Shouldn't this be in the article or something? I had the same issue and maybe I'm an idiot but the explanation above is a bit confusing, not least the plant metaphor, plants that form runners are essentially clones, they aren't performing a specialised function within the organism. Also, if its the polyps being connected that determines it, why isnt it the same for jellys and other similar cnidarians? I still fail to understand exactly how these are a colony of animals as opposed to one animal, they are all connected, they are incapable of independent survival, they all reproduce from the same organ, they perform functions analogous to organs in other animals, also if they're all different animals do they each have different taxonomical classifications? This just doesn't make sense. (talk) 06:00, 17 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Based on this discussion and my own recent confusion over this, I added "(of the same species)" to the description. Why wasn't this added years ago? My educated guess: The organization of each polyp has structural features that separate them from their neighbors and which are more similar to free-living polyps, but which can't live on their own, and each polyp differentiates from an original multipotent polyp or cell. (talk) 14:14, 6 July 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

So much guess work but still no section on reproduction. I basically came to this wiki page because I read on a YouTube comment that it's not one animal, and immediately wondered how it could reproduce in that case. So far, nothing is listed in at least HOW it reproduces regardless of whether it's classification as an organism(s?) is misleading or correct. I would absolutely love it if some of you wonderful people could add a section on the curiosities of its reproduction! :D Sweeeetheart (talk) 08:30, 2 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I absolutely agree that the article has been very confusing about this issue! Especially since the man o' war is such a talked-about but widely misunderstood creature in the public consciousness, popular science media, etc.
I've tried to address this in two ways: I added a section on the life cycle of the man o' war, and I also added a subheading in the anatomy section briefly discussing why the man o' war is considered a colonial organism despite functioning as a single reproducing individual. Mabolle (talk) 09:45, 10 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

contradiction with Colony (biology)[edit]

P.S.: I just noticed that this problem was already pointed out at Talk:Colony (biology) in November 2006 (!), but was never resolved.

There seems to be a direct contradiction between this article and the article on colonial organisms it links to. Here it says:

"[...] the Portuguese man o' war is [...] a colonial organism made up of many highly specialized minute individuals called zooids. These zooids are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival."

At Colony (biology), it says:

The difference between a multicellular organism and a colonial organism is that individual organisms from a colony can, if separated, survive on their own [...].

The contradiction might be resolved if the man o' war has intermediate self-sufficient units on a level between the individual zooids and the entire man o' war, but if so, this should be explained.

Joriki (talk) 10:22, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This definition of the colony is not universal. In biology of cnidarians the term “colony” is used for any modular organism originating in course of unfinished asexual reproduction. It doesn't depend on ability to stay alive after fragmentation. It's more traditonal than strict logic. Mithril (talk)
Certainly the use of the term 'colony' in cnidarian biology does refer to 'any modular organism in the course of asexual reproduction', I agree. Whether that is appropriate or not is the question, since the connotation of that term's usage in other biological circumstances leads to the completely incorrect assumption that the individual physalia is a conglomeration of synergistic individuals, as often ascribed to their nature. Clarity might be better served by acknowledging the narrow use of the term, colony, in this case. Gseymour (talk) 23:17, 30 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The usual comment that Blue Bottles can be considered a colony felt irritating to this biology generalist, given that eukaryotes are descended from a symbiosis with mitochondria and other organelles, and are many kg of HeLa cells scattered around the world. So I investigated further. Viewing the first siphonophore shown in nicely demonstrates why every siphonophore expert mentions coloniality; see also IMHO the depth and detail of the current wp article is about right. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:58, 13 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Treatment of stings[edit]

I swam into a Portuguese Man O'War in 1976, in South Carolina. The hospital advised me to wash my wounds with vinegar, and apply a topical application of a paste of a common meat tenderizer. This contained Papin which may be related to Bromelain. They also told me to take an antihistamine. Any thoughts about the reasons that Papin/Bromelian would be efficacious for stings? At any rate, for a few decades, I had some interesting tattoo-like scars! Thanks...Tribe of Tiger Let's Purrfect! 03:49, 22 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Sting no more" commercial?[edit]

The mention of the sting-no-more study, conveniently sponsored by sting-no-more seems like an advertorial. Also conflicting info wrt vinager being yes or no effective? Suggest: remove the last lines related to treatment. remove mention of suspicious study. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:982:50E7:1:3C8A:D20C:78E:A292 (talk) 21:29, 8 June 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Only species, or not?[edit]

The "Man o' war" disambiguation page lists "Portuguese man o' war" (this article), and also "Physalia utriculus" ("Indo-Pacific Portuguese man o' war, a similar species found in the Indo-Pacific") -- which also redirects to this page.

The sidebar ("speciesbox") says this page is about "Physalia physalis".

This article currently says: "The Portuguese man o' war is the only species in the genus Physalia, which in turn is the only genus in the family Physaliidae."

The reference on that sentence points to which says it's about "Physalia utriculus", instead, and contains the sentence "The only other species, Physalia physalis, the Portugese man-o-war is found in the Atlantic ocean."

So I don't know what's going on with this article, but it looks wrong. How can we improve this? It looks like the genus has two species, and this article is (maybe?) about the entire genus. But I'm not a biologist and this is a bit confusing.

The genus is monotypic as Physalia utriculus is no longer recognised. Reference now updated/replaced in text. Loopy30 (talk) 13:19, 24 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In the beginning of the article it still refers to Physalia utriculus as the other species in the genus. Later on in the article (second to last paragraph in overview) bluebottle is used as a name, which is quite confusing to me, since the beginning of the article states that this is a different species. Some clarification from someone with understanding would be appreciated! (talk) 10:13, 15 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In the article on the genus Physalia, it states: "The species Physalia utriculus is given the common name Pacific man o' war to distinguish it from the more widely distributed and larger Physalia physalis, the Portuguese man o' war."

But this article claims: "[Physalia physalis] is considered to be the same species as the Pacific man o' war, which is found mainly in the Pacific Ocean."

So which is it? Are they separate species or the same species? These two excerpts contradict each other. One needs to be corrected. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:14, 17 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The merge discussion did not peter out, but was in fact implemented in March, 2019. From the edit history of the Physalia utriculus page, this update was reverted in January 2022 - producing the discrepancies that led to the current question by the IP above and the need to once more complete the merge. Loopy30 (talk) 12:05, 11 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oy. I had not realized that the revert happened ony this January, without any discussion - thought that was something that had taken place in 2019. That explains some of the oddities. Well, in either case I can't see a good reason for it, nor consensus? --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 12:11, 11 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why they are called Portuguese man of war[edit]

Give me answer 2400:ADC5:165:FB00:8558:1D06:4654:3FF9 (talk) 17:20, 22 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

RTFA. Theturbolemming (talk) 19:11, 5 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The confusing nature of the "coloniality" claim is touched on in other topics of this page. The article currently has this in the eponymous section:

All zooids in a man o' war develop from the same single fertilized egg and are therefore genetically identical; they remain physiologically connected throughout life, and essentially function as organs in a shared body. Hence, a Portuguese man o' war constitutes a single individual from an ecological perspective, but is made up of many individuals from an embryological perspective.

It's not clear how this colony creature is any different any multicellular organism and how zooids are different from cells. There needs to be more explanation of zooids are "many individuals from an embryological perspective". What exactly does that mean?

The first part of the paragraph/section might be supposed to function as an explanation, but the text is pretty opaque:

The man o' war is described as a colonial organism because the individual zooids in a colony are evolutionarily derived from either polyps or medusae, i.e. the two basic body plans of cnidarians. Both of these body plans comprise entire individuals in non-colonial cnidarians (for example, a jellyfish is a medusa; a sea anemone is a polyp).

Reading very carefully, it sounds like there's a similarity between the body plans of different zooids in the PMoW and that of polyps and medusae, which are separate individual creatures. Weak sauce. It sounds like saying, "Well, some of your cells look like this animal, and others of your cells looks like this other animal, so that means you're really a collection of individuals." Resemblance of cells to complete organisms is not really what most people would expect when hearing something is a colony of individuals. The science here can't be that bogus, can it? What's missing from the article?

JKeck (talk) 13:36, 12 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Siphonophore = jellyfish?[edit]

Siphonophores are cnidarians with a medusa phase, so it is inaccurate to describe them as an entirely separate thing to jellyfish. They may not be true jellyfish, but neither are box jellies and those are clearly jellyfish. What do you all think? Siphonophore-enthusiast (talk) 13:02, 1 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Certainly it's an unclear term. Invasive Spices (talk) 18:35, 1 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]