Odd things, daily.
Jellyfish are weird enough already, but the small species known as Turritopsis nutricula takes it one step further… it’s immortal. The creature is the only known species on the planet with the ability to reverse the ageing process.
A typical jellyfish starts its life cycle as a larva, which develops into a polyp, which develops into a full-grown, sexually mature jellyfish. Turritopsis nutricula starts life out the same way, but in stressful times like when there’s a food shortage, the creature reverses its life cycle, becoming a polyp again. It’s like Benjamin Button, only when environmental conditions are more favourable, the polyp develops into a full-grown jellyfish again, and the process repeats itself without end.
This rare biological process is called transdifferentiation, where a cell can completely transform into a different type of cell.
In theory, if the secrets of Turritopsis nutricula are unlocked, scientists may one day be able to mimic the process in a human subject. Companies like Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) claim to be developing new technologies that will take advantage of transdifferentiation.
Would you want to live forever? Should we be trying? Can jellyfish get any weirder? Leave your thoughts below.