Like that of most scyphozoans, the ontogeny of Cyanea capillata medusae involves substantive alterations in feeding structures and mechanics. We used video and optical microscopy approaches to quantify these ontogenetic changes in morphology, flow, and feeding of C. capillata medusae. We found that alterations in gross morphology and nematocyst distributions coincided with a shift from prey capture on the manubrium or lappets of ephyrae (bell diameter 0.2-0.4 cm) to capture primarily on the tentacles in adult medusae (diameter >1.0 cm). These changes occurred within a hydrodynamic framework that itself changed due to medusan growth. Viscous forces were important in flows around small ephyrae (maximum Re <10(1)), whereas viscosity was less influential in the inertially dominated flows around adult medusae (Re > 10(2)). The relative timing of these events indicates that ontogenetic processes are closely synchronized with alterations in the hydrodynamic environment within which C. capillata medusae develop.