Hydra (mythology)

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Hydra

Hydras are a member of the phylum Cnidaria, class Hydrozoa. They are a solitary polyps that usually measure between 0.1 and 0.3 in (3 and 8 mm), though some can be larger. Hydras are freshwater species and occur in many parts of the world. Most are roughly cylindrical in shape, with a broadened basal disk that serves to attach the animal to some firm substrate. Most species are sessile but some can, if conditions require, move over short distances by repeatedly looping the body over onto the substrate. Longer-range movements may be accomplished by releasing their grip on the substrate and rising into the water current.

The main body stalk is a simple, erect tubelike arrangement, at the top of which is the mouth. This is surrounded by a ring of tentacles whose length varies according to the species. The body stalk is not encased in a hard protective layer, and the animal is therefore able to flex and bend. The bulk of the body is taken up with the large intestinal cavity.

The tentacles contain a large number of specialized cells called cnidocytes, which contain stinging structures known as nematocysts. The latter vary in shape according to their purpose. Most have an oval shaped base, attached to a long threadlike structure. When the animal is feeding or is alarmed, the cnidocytes release the nematocysts. When the animal is feeding, most of the nematocysts that are released are hollow and elongate, their purpose being to trap and entangle prey. Once this has been completed, the captured preyoften small crustaceansare grasped by the tentacles and passed down towards the mouth.

In other situations, for example in defense, the nematocysts released may be shorter and often bear small spines; some may also contain a toxic substance which is injected into the attacking animal to deter or stun it.

Most hydras reproduce asexually by buddingoff. In this process, a small extension of the parent animal forms on the body wall. As this grows, a separate mouth and set of tentacles develops until eventually a replicate of the parent hydra is produced. When the young animal has fully developed, the two separate and the young hydra drifts off in the current to become established elsewhere. In certain circumstances, particularly where seasonal drought is a regular feature, some species may also practice sexual reproduction, which involves the production of a fertilized embryo enclosed in a toughened outer coating. In this state, the hydra is able to withstand periods of drought, cold, food shortages, or heat. Once normal conditions resume, the outer casing dissolves and the embryo recommences life.

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Hydra

Hydra are solitary animals of the phylum Coelenterata that measure from just a few millimeters in size to more than 3.5 ft (1 m) in length. They are all thin animals that rarely measure more than 0.4 in (1 cm) in diameter. Most are cylindrical in shape, with a broadened basal disk that serves to attach the animal to some firm substrate. Most species are sessile but some can, if conditions require, move over short distances by repeatedly looping the body over onto the substrate. Longer-range movements may be accomplished by releasing their grip on the substrate and rising into the water current.

The main body stalk is a simple, erect tube-like arrangement, at the top of which is the mouth. This is surrounded by a ring of tentacles whose length varies according to the species in question. The body stalk is not encased in a hard protective layer, and the animal is therefore able to flex and bend. The bulk of the body is taken up with the large intestinal cavity.

The tentacles contain a large number of specialized cells called cnidocytes, which contain stinging structures known as nematocysts. The latter vary in shape according to their required purpose. Most have an oval shaped base, attached to a long threadlike structure. When the animal is feeding or is alarmed, the cnidocytes are triggered to release the nematocysts. When the animals is feeding, most of the nematocysts that are released are hollow and elongate, their purpose being to trap and entangle prey . Once this has been completed, the captured prey—often small crustaceans—are grasped by the tentacles and passed down towards the mouth.

In other situations, for example in defense, the nematocysts may be shorter and often bear small spines; some may also contain a toxic substance which is injected into the attacking animal to deter or stun it.

Most hydras reproduce by asexual means through a simple system of "budding-off." In this process, a small extension of the parent animal forms on the body wall. As this grows, a separate mouth and set of tentacles develops until eventually a replicate daughter cell of the parent hydra is produced. When the young animal has fully developed, the two separate and the young hydra drifts off in the current to become established elsewhere. In certain circumstances, particularly where seasonal drought is a regular feature, some species may also practice sexual reproduction which involves the production of a fertilized embryo enclosed in a toughened outer coating. In this state, the young hydra is able to withstand periods of drought, cold, food shortages, or heat . Once conditions normal resume, the outer casing dissolves and the embryo recommences life.

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Hy·dra / ˈhīdrə/ 1. Greek Mythol. a many-headed snake whose heads grew again as they were cut off, killed by Hercules. ∎  [as n.] (hydra) a thing that is hard to overcome or resist because of its pervasive or enduring quality or its many aspects. 2. Astron. the largest constellation (the Water Snake or Sea Monster), said to represent the beast slain by Hercules. Its few bright stars are close to the celestial equator. Compare with Hydrus. ∎  [as genitive] (Hy·drae / -drē/ ) used with a preceding letter or numeral to designate a star in this constellation: the star Beta Hydrae.

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Hydraairer, bearer, carer, Clara, darer, declarer, Demerara, Éire, habanera, Halmahera, parer, Perak, primavera, repairer, Rivera, Riviera, Sarah, scarer, sharer, snarer, sparer, squarer, starer, swearer, tearer, wearer •cause célèbre • torch-bearer •swordbearer • pallbearer • wayfarer •seafarer • capoeira • Phaedra •sacra, simulacra •Libra, vers libre •ex cathedra •chypre, Yprespalaestra (US palestra) • urethra •joie de vivre •mirror, sirrah •Coimbra • Middlesbrough • Indra •Sintra •aspidistra, sistra •algebra • orchestra • vertebra •Beira, Fujairah, Hegira, Lyra, Myra, naira, palmyra, spirogyra •Hydra • Lycra •begorra, Gomorrah, horror •double entendre • genre • amour propre • Le Nôtre • contra •Cosa Nostra, rostra

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Hydra

In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a giant water snake with many heads that lived in a swamp near Lerna in the land of Argos. The number of heads is variously reported from as few as 5 to more than 100.



immortal able to live forever

The second of the 12 labors of Hercules* was to kill the Hydra. However, when one of the Hydra's heads was cut off, two more grew in its place. The monster also had one immortal head. To defeat the Hydra, Hercules called on his friend Iolaus for help. As soon as Hercules cut off one head, Iolaus would seal the wound with a hot iron or a torch so that nothing could grow to replace it. After removing the Hydra's immortal head, Hercules buried it under a large rock. He then collected the monster's poisonous blood. In later adventures, he dipped his arrows in the blood so that they would instantly kill whomever they struck.

See also Animals in Mythology; Greek Mythology; Hercules; Serpents and Snakes.

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Hydra in Greek mythology, a many-headed snake whose heads grew again as they were cut off, killed by Hercules as the second of his Labours; in figurative usage, a thing which is hard to overcome or resist because of its pervasive or enduring quality or its many aspects.

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hydra Popular name for a group of small, freshwater organisms including the jellyfish, coral and sea anemone.

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hy·dra / ˈhīdrə/ • n. a minute freshwater coelenterate with a stalklike tubular body and a ring of tentacles around the mouth. • Genus Hydra, class Hydrozoa.

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hydra fabulous many-headed snake whose heads grew again as fast as they were cut off XVI (earlier (h)ydre, idre); genus of freshwater polyps, so named from the fact that cutting it into pieces multiplies its numbers XVIII. — L. — Gr. húdrā water-serpent (cf. OTTER).

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Hydra Largest constellation in the sky. It represents the water snake killed by Heracles in classical mythology.