Immortality, a very eccentric word that sounds so outlandish in our realistic world. It is a concept that refers to people or animals that can never die. It is often seen in our Greek mythologies and countless fairy tales. Remember, the stories of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up or the Dracula, wherein the survival in this world was till the point they kept sucking blood? To us, immortality is just an imaginary idea, right?
However, there is one such creature that seems to beat the usual system of life and by its peculiarities knows how to cheat death. ‘Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish’ also known as Immortal Jellyfish, a unique species of jellyfish that is an immortal creature, owns a mechanism for transforming itself from adult phase to polyp phase, and be a baby again.
While you may know many animals that can regrow their limbs, this animal is little different, no it doesn’t own a time machine, but can actually regenerate its entire body. It can revert its cells and grow anew, have a new life. Their cell transformation is scientifically known as transdifferentiation, wherein the muscle cells can become sperm or eggs. It has the ability to deteriorate itself and eventually become a cyst again.
So whoever said, cats have 9 lives, must take a look at these Jellyfishes who potentially have infinite lives. That’s like a butterfly turning to a caterpillar or a chicken going back in its egg. The phrase ‘turning back the hands of time’ has achieved a new meaning through this immortal jellyfish. Scientists believe that this regression takes place so quickly that it becomes impossible for them to observe it in the wild.
These creatures originated in the Caribbean, but now they have been widespread in all tropical and temperate regions of the world. They look like a transparent parachute with many tentacles attached to them.
So when does this transformation take place?
The metamorphosis usually takes place when the animal is stressed out by facing starvation, pollution, predators attack or other stresses in its environment. They are basically plankton which gets moved around by the ocean. They often get eaten by other organisms since they are a source of nutrition for many aquatic animals. So this basically means that these organisms are only immortal until they are eaten. Also, there is no likelihood of you being immortal after eating it!
This immortal concept is quite important to scientists as they are constantly looking to regenerate the tissues. Studying this jellyfish can prove to be tremendously useful in cancer research, as this has inspired scientists to search for new ways to create stem cells by using the same process for renewing dead and damaged tissues in humans.