FACTS Science & Environment

Do you want to live forever? Well this Jellyfish does!

"Forever and Ever", published in the December 2, 2014 issue of The New York Times Magazine

This tiny transparent jellyfish travels the world in ballast tanks of ships and cargo liners. Having the capability to revert back to a younger age when near old age, makes Turritopsis dohrnii (earlier called Turritopsis nutricula). The myth about immortality, that godlike ability to live forever is actually achieved by this tiny jellyfish. These were discovered in 1883 in the Mediterranean Sea but their unique regeneration powers were known to the researches in mid-1990s.

It’s kind of like a butterfly that instead of dying changes back to a caterpillar, or an aged chicken turning back into an egg.

The ‘immortality’ steps start when T. dohrnii suffers an attack, starvation, or some kind of environmental stress. Instead of dying, they change firstly into a tiny blob, and then shift back to the polyp stage within three days. They regroup as a polyp colony sitting on a rock.

The unique regeneration process is called “transdifferentiation”.

What is “transdifferentiation”?

This is a process wherein cells will turn into different kinds of cells. For instance, the muscle cells of the immortal jellyfish can turn into germinating cells. Nerve cells may also turn into muscle cells, and this means that the immortal jellyfish has transformation powers

Did You Know?

  • Jellyfish(es) are the most efficient swimmers in the marine life.
  • Jellyfish usually eat fish eggs, plankton and tiny mollusks.

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