Invasive 'comb' jellyfish cannibalize their young when food is scarce, study reveals

An strange invasive species of jellyfish in Europe eats its own young when food is low, a new study claims.

The cannibalistic animal is a species called Mnemiopsis leidyi, which is also known as the warty comb jelly, according to researchers.

It regularly washes up on Baltic shores and researchers now believe it eats its own larvae when food is scarce.

In a paper published today in the journal Communications Biology, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark claim this discovery shows how cannibalism is practiced across the animal kingdom.

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Pictured, evidence of cannibalistic behaviour. Here an adult Mnemiopsis leidyi is seen with larvae (next to red arrows) inside it.

Pictured, evidence of cannibalistic behaviour. Here an adult Mnemiopsis leidyi is seen with larvae (next to red arrows) inside it. (Jamileh Javidpour/University of Southern Denmark)

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The jellyfish was already known to be able to survive difficult times, but researchers did not understand how it did so.

It was previously thought that a lack of predators was the reason, as the researchers note in the paper's abstract.

The invasive jellies with native fish and negatively impact food webs, having a knock-on impact on commercial fisheries, according to The Daily Mail.