• Camron Davis

Turritopsis dohrnii, The Immortal Jellyfish


Throughout the ages of time, mankind has continued its search for prolonging life through methods of curing diseases and providing medical treatment. Stories such as Saint Lazarus of Bethany and his resurrection or Juan Ponce De León's legendary "Fountain of Youth" have been passed down but with no clear answer as to how such a feat could be done.

One creature exists that is capable of eternal life. The Turritopsis donhrnii, or the immortal jellyfish as it is more commonly known, is officially known as the only immortal creature on earth.

The jellyfish starts in a larva state called a "planula" which then sinks to the ocean floor to grow into a cylindrical colony of polyps, according to the American Museum of Natural History.

The colony then "spawn free-swimming, genetically identical medusae—the animals we recognize as jellyfish—which grow to adulthood in a matter of weeks."

The creature is only 4.5 mm, with a small red stomach in the center of its transparent bell, which is lined with 90 white tentacles. When faced with starvation or physical harm, the jellyfish reverts itself back to its developmental polyp state.

It then repeats the process by releasing medusae identical to the injured adult and continues the cycle forever.

The process is called transdifferentiation, and it has left scientists wondering how to apply it to modern medicine.

According to the American Museum of Natural History, "By undergoing transdifferentiation, an adult cell, one that is specialized for a particular tissue, can become an entirely different type of specialized cell. It’s an efficient way of cell recycling and an important area of study in stem cell research that could help scientists replace cells that have been damaged by disease."