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How Can Something Be Both an Animal and a Colony?
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Key Facts In This Video
There are about 175 species of siphonophores in the world, most of which live deep in the ocean. Some can reach lengths of 50 meters -- longer than a blue whale. 00:20
A colony is defined as a group of organisms that work together but can function independently, whereas a single organism is composed of many interdependent units that can't survive on their own. The structures of siphonophores don't fit either definition. 00:38
The fact they're made up of specialized building blocks called zooids makes them seem like single organisms, but because zooids can move independently and reproduce by budding rather than dividing and duplicating, they could also be classified as a colony. 01:10