Immortal Jellyfish

In 1988 science stumbled upon proof of eternal life – immortality thrived in the form of a minuscule jellyfish. German marine biology student Christian Sommer spent a summer on the Italian Riviera studying invertebrates. Long story short (see link below) he noticed something unusual about Turritopsis Dohrnii – a tiny jellyfish only 4.5 mm wide at maturity.

Observing petri dish specimens, Sommer watched them reproduce followed by an astounding transformation – reverse aging to juvenile polyp stage. Liken it to a butterfly becoming a caterpillar or bird becoming an egg, hatching as a new chick. Instead of dying, they started their life cycle over again.

Science can’t explain the immortal jellyfish beyond understanding cellular trans-differentiation happens during rejuvenation – one cell type is converted into another (skin cell might become a nerve cell ). Crazy as it sounds, mankind’s elusive quest for longevity might have it all wrong. Immortality’s secret could be locked in an obscure jellyfish content to reproduce and start over again.

The “immortal jellyfish” can transform itself back into a polyp and begin life anew. Credit Takashi Murai

8 thoughts on “Immortal Jellyfish

  1. I’m always dubious of the results of one off studies carried out in vitro being applied wholesale to the real in vivo world. Then we have the thought, ‘Do I want to live forever?’ I sure as hell don’t. πŸ˜‰

  2. Pingback: Immortal Jellyfish | M. Rogers Writes

  3. Immortality is a strange notion. The cells in our body die on average every 11 months but we don’t care because as bodies we hang around for longer. That tells you everything about the selfish nature of the desire for immortality. As far as I’m concerned, our DNA is close to immortal as it cycles through generations of birth. But even so, I love it that nature has come up with this jellyfish that takes a creative approach to dying!


    • I love that mankind fancies itself superior to all forms of life, but right under our noses obscure species few people ever heard of kick specialized evolutionary ass. Tardigrades, mantis shrimp, various extremophiles for example – makes me ponder fresh layers of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

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