immortal jellyfish Science

The First Known Immortal Animal


On the face of it, immortality sounds like science fiction or fantasy. The possibility to indefinitely extend ones’ life certainly sparks imagination. If someone were to discover a way to make it a reality, there is no doubt that they would become very, very rich.

Throughout history, fanciful tales have been told about those who have searched for the means to make themselves immortal. The fountain of youth and the Holy Grail are often the subjects of these tales. Unfortunately for us, they have remained just that – stories.

This isn’t the case for one particular ocean dwelling animal. An animal that has achieved what humans have longed for since the dawn of time – the Turritopsis nutricula.

The Immortal Animal

Scientists have recently discovered the world’s first known immortal animal. A jellyfish species named Turritopsis nutricula. The jellyfish was originally from the Caribbean, but has since spread all over the world’s oceans.

The jellyfish’s secret to genetic immortality lies in it reverting back to a younger stage in its life. It enters an earlier polyp stage after it mates, and by doing so, completely restarts its lifecycle. In the case of Turritopsis nutricula, sex really does seem to be the key to a long, healthy life.

Forever Young

Because the jellyfish can repeat this process indefinitely, Turritopsis nutricula will never die from aging, ever. That doesn’t mean the jellyfish can’t be killed, however. It’s still susceptible to physical injuries, disease and predators like anything else. Immortality for this jellyfish just means that unlike other animals, it will not die from old age.

Researchers hope that studying the Turritopsis will lead to breakthroughs in reversing the human aging process. Who knows, maybe jellyfish will be the key to creating our very own immortality potion.

References:
Gilbert, Scott F. (2006). “Cheating Death: The Immortal Life Cycle of Turritopsis
Photo is available under a Creative Commons Attribution license by Wikicommons.


10 Comments on The First Known Immortal Animal

  1. Heino

    Its not the only immortal organism…perhaps correct to say the first multi-cellular organism that has no “expiry date”. Unicellular organisms like amoeba also don’t die

      • jb

        Grammar is moot, and the marvel of Turritopsis nutricula acknowledged;
        But unless all offspring die, then animals that reproduce by fission are immortal. Since it seems to me that the ‘individual (sic) life’ does not attach to, or stop with, the ‘parent’ nor start with either of the offspring, the original ‘self’ continues (diluted?) with both ‘offspring’.
        . Is my ‘self’ diluted as I grow bigger from an infant?
        . Life is too marvelous. :)

    • John Austin

      Actually they called it the immortal “animal”. By definition animals are multicellular, so your point is moot.

  2. Ryzen

    what if i eat alot of that jelly fish or take all it cells & inject it to my body will i become immortal or atleast become a vampire ^_^

  3. jb

    Amazing!
    Does this sea jelly spawn young, or does it swap DNA and use the regression to reboot its life with the new genetics (becoming its own child)?

  4. Roy C

    Just what we need… People who live forever. There are some people who should definitely not be allowed to live forever. They do enough damage in a normal lifetime.

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