Day the Earth Stands Still banner

The immortal jellyfish

This is straight out of a bad science fiction movie. A species of tiny jellyfish is swarming through the world’s oceans — because it is essentially immortal:

Dr Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute said: “We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion.”

The jellyfish are originally from the Caribbean but have spread all over the world. Turritopsis Nutricula is technically known as a hydrozoan and is the only known animal that is capable of reverting completely to its younger self. It does this through the cell development process of transdifferentiation. Scientists believe the cycle can repeat indefinitely, rendering it potentially immortal.

While most members of the jellyfish family usually die after propagating, the Turritopsis nutricula has developed the unique ability to return to a polyp state.

One question: with this unique ability, why haven’t these jellyfish overrun the oceans before now?

Second question: how long before geneticists try to figure out how to insert the relevant jellyfish gene into the human genome?

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.