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Swarms Of Immortal Jellyfish


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Turritopsis Nutricula

A small species of jellyfish native to the warmer, tropical waters of the Caribbean has developed a unique way of rendering itself potentially immortal. The 5mm long Turritopsis Nutricula is unlike any other member of the jellyfish group as it is able to revert back to it's younger form (once it has become sexually mature) through a biological process known as transdifferentiation. Despite Turritopsis Nutricula first being discovered in 1883, it's unique abilities were not unveiled until much later in the 1990s.

Although it is thought that Turritopsis Nutricula will only do this if it faced by life-threatening circumstances including being starving or physically wounded, this little jellyfish completely transforms it's existing cells into their younger state, turning itself into a small blob-like polyp which in turn becomes a polyp colony. This colony then spawns hundreds of identical jellyfish which are nearly perfect copies of the original adult. It is thought to be able to repeat this process indefinitely, meaning that it can technically live forever.


Turritopsis Nutricula
Turritopsis Nutricula is actually not one of the world's true jellyfish but instead belongs to a group of small, predatory, water-bound animals known as hydrozoans, that are closely related to jellyfish and corals. Most of the members of the jellyfish family are known to die shortly after mating, so it is a real mystery to science as to why and how Turritopsis Nutricula has decided to live it's life cycling between it's old and young states.

However, this phenomenal of the natural world does not go without consequence as the range of this tiny invertebrate has extended rapidly out of Caribbean waters, as it has swarmed the oceans of the world. Turritopsis Nutricula has been found everywhere and although they may differ slightly in appearance from place to place (individuals inhabiting tropical waters have around 8 tentacles, where those found in cooler regions have at least 24), their genetics are seemingly identical.


Turritopsis Nutricula
Jellyfish are not generally known for migrating such vast distances, and this coupled with the fact that all Turritopsis Nutricula individuals have such similar DNA, means that they are thought to have got around in other ways including becoming stowaways on boats. The true effects on their new ecosystems is not yet known and the secret to the immortality of this tiny creature will probably remain a mystery to the world for years to come.

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