Collins, Allen G. Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
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A class of the phylum Cnidaria comprising roughly 50 species commonly known as stalked jellyfishes or stauromedusae. The term stauromedusa is derived from the Greek stauro for cross-shaped and medusa for the gorgon with snakes for hair. Staurozoans are small animals [1–4 cm (0.4–1.6 in.)] that live in marine environments, usually attached to seaweeds, rocks, or gravel. The group has a largely antitropical distribution, with the majority of species found in boreal or polar, near-shore, and shallow waters. Nevertheless, some species inhabit the deep sea, including at least one that is associated with mid-ocean ridge habitats adjacent to hydrothermal vents. In addition, a small number of species have been observed in warmer tropical and subtropical water environments of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Ocean basins. The vast majority of species are known from the Northern Hemisphere, but this may reflect study effort rather than a real geographic pattern in diversity. The 50 or so species of Staurozoa are currently classified into one order, six families, and 14 genera. See also: Cnidaria
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