The immortal Jellyfish, Image Credit: American Museum of Natural HIstory

The Immortal Jellyfish

The immortal Jellyfish, has a bright-red stomach that is visible in the middle of its transparent bell, and the edges are lined with up to 90 white tentacles, Image Credit: American Museum of Natural HIstory

Is it possible to live forever?

Witches and wizards in Harry Potter save their souls in a magical object. They then go on to live forever. Pinocchio was brought back to life by The Blue Fairy, who was immortal. Immortal means to live forever. Jonathan Swift’s famous book Gulliver’s Travels had an island of Immortals where islanders had an everlasting life. The idea of living forever has always existed in storybooks.

What if you could live forever in reality?

That’s not possible.

All living things follow a cycle of birth and withering away . And every living thing follows this rule except one – A jellyfish!

An Immortal Jellyfish

Turritopsis Dohrnii, a jellyfish, first discovered in the Mediterranean sea, can live forever. You might think how is it even possible. Life underwater is not easy. It is a fight for survival every day. Whenever this jellyfish, is under a threat of getting injured or starving, it shrinks. Then, it attaches itself to the surface of the water. Slowly, it converts into a blob. The jellyfish now looks like a drop of a thick gooey substance. This is when the magic begins. The cells of the blob undergo changes. The adult cells change themselves and go back to being baby cells. The adult jellyfish turns into a newborn jellyfish!

The Ordinary that is Extraordinary

The immortal jellyfish is tinier than the nail on your smallest finger. Apparently, size does not matter for this immortal creature. And like most jellyfish, it has a transparent bell lined with many tentacles. But the unique quality of being immortal makes it different from other sea creatures.

No other creature in the animal kingdom has the process by which they can turn one kind of cell into another kind of cell. For instance, nerve cells of immortal jellyfish can turn into muscle cells. Immortal jellyfish has extraordinary transformation powers!

Can the spell of immortality be broken?

Characters in storybooks that are immortal cannot die of old age, but have some weakness or the other. They can be killed through different ways like injury or illness. Or they can be put into a deep slumber for indefinite time. Even the toughest ones have a weakness! The Dorhnii jellyfish also has one. It gets the boon of immortality only after it has given birth to its young ones, not before that. It can also die in case of illness.

Did you know?

Keeping T. dohrnii in labs is quite difficult. They do not survive. Only one scientist in the world, Shin Kubota from Japan, has been successful in doing so. He has been able to keep and observe a group of these jellyfish for two years. During this two-year period, his jellyfish colony has re-birthed itself 11 times!

Researchers want to study if humans cells are capable of such magical changes. If the cells can turn from being old and damaged to become as good as new. In that case, even if humans do not become immortal they will, at least, be able to live a life that is free of illnesses!

Read about some other amazing animal species here!

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