Scientists found an oldest immortal jellyfish i.e. The Benjamin Button Jellyfish. Its scientific name is Turritopsis dohrnii.
Simply, when T. dohrnii reach adulthood, they regenerate their cells back into their childhood which backwards their age. Likewise phoenix birds in Harry Potter Movie can regenerate itself when they go into adulthood to a new chick from its ashes.
The ability to reverse the biological cycle is very rare and unique in the whole animal kingdom. It allows T. dohrnii to bypass death and make them potentially biologically immortal.
If You have thought that they will never die as being immortal, then you are typically wrong because they can die when predators eat them before reverting into polyp stage (childhood stage). Another way they can die is : when they succumb (suffer) from disease.
The factor which makes them biologically immortal is the main key for the Scientists to make Human aging stop and for Pharmaceutical research in the future.
It has inspired the Scientists to find a way to make stem cells in the body so that they could regenerate damaged or dead tissue in humans by the help of jellyfish immortality process.
Actually scientists haven’t researched them in their natural habitat due to their extremely deep location in the ocean. So, scientists research jellyfish by bringing them to the lab.
The scientific name of the immortal jellyfish is Turritopsis dohrnii. Turritopsis is the genus name and dohrnii is the species name.
Formerly, “Immortal jellyfish” was classified as Turritopsis Nutricula along with other jellyfish species. German marine biology student August Friedrich Leopold Weismann gave its other names in 1893 A.D. It is also called Benjamin Button jellyfish because of its cell transformation ability to revert into the childhood (immature) stage.
There are a total 2,000 jellyfish species which exist. However, there is only one species of Immortal Jellyfish i.e. Hydrozoan Turritopsis dohrnii.
- Its just the size of a tiny ice cube.
- When you see it, it looks almost invisible due to its transparency in the water.
- It has a large stomach which is bright red.
- A bell-shaped transparent body of height 0.18 inches and diameter from 0.18 to 0.4 inches is present.
- It has Cruciform shape in its cross section.
- Its body contains approximately 5% matter and 95% water.
- Younger immortal jellyfish can have 0.04 inches in size and have 8 tentacles.
- Adult ones can have upto 80-90 tentacles having 10 feet length which grow from each corner of the bell.
It was first discovered in 1883 in the Mediterranean Sea and near Japan sea. After that, it was distributed all over the world featuring tropical and temperate waters by having free lift in the ballast water of long-distance cargo ships.
Its favourable habitat is in the warm water but also it has spotted in colder areas as well. It has found both near the surface and in the bottom of the sea like other jellyfishes.
Preys and Predators
Its prey are : fish eggs, plankton, small mollusks and brine shrimp, etc. They catch their prey with the help of tentacles.
Its predators are : larger jellyfish, sea anemones, tuna, sharks, swordfish, sea turtles and penguins, etc. Their predators eat them as they are a great Source of Nutrition.
Immortal jellyfish’s tentacles contain microscopic barbed stingers where each stinger has a tiny bulb (coiled and sharp tipped tube) that holds venom.They use this venom to protect themselves and to kill prey.
When anything brushes against the tentacle then tiny triggers on the surface releases the stinger which is its Defense Mechanism.
When they are in critical condition, they protect themselves by hitting the reset button and go back in age and again live the polyp stage.
Life Cycle or Transformation
There are two Life Cycles depending on their conditions:
1. Normal Cycle :
In this cycle, T. dohrnii begin their life as a tiny and free swimming larva called Planula which develops from a fertilized egg called Gametes.
Planula Larva develops into Medusa by passing through different stages i.e. Benthic Polyps and Ephyrae.
When they reach Medusa (adulthood) through natural aging then male and female release sperm and eggs into open water.
Gametes form by the meeting of free-floating sperm and eggs and this cycle goes on and on continuously.
2. Reverse Cycle :
In this cycle, T. dohrnii begin their life same as the Normal Cycle from egg to adulthood.
But the Twist comes when Medusa (adulthood) dies due to any reasons like Predators eat them or exposed to physical harm or when they starve (food hunger).
Then, Dying Medusa converts into a Ball of Cells. Later on, it develops into polyp (stage from where they began their life) resulting in a new polyp colony which can spawn hundreds of genetically identical jellyfish.
Actually, They are the near perfect copy of the original adult.
This process happens through the cell development process of transdifferentiation, which alters the differentiated state of the cells and transforms them into new types of cells.
This process can repeat indefinitely which makes jellyfish biologically immortal.
They reproduce both sexually and asexually but they are not hermaphroditic (condition of having both male and female organs in same body).
1. Sexually :
When the Medusa are in Normal Cycle or when they become mature, they reproduce sexually by releasing sperm and eggs into open water. Male releases sperm and female releases eggs where sperm fertilize eggs.
2. Asexually :
When the Medusa are in Reverse Cycle or when they are immature, they reproduce asexually by budding (ball of cells).
It is the unique life cycle where immature Medusa transforms back into Polyp stage which makes an identical copy of the adult jellyfish and provides no limit on lifespan.
Amazing Facts of Immortal Jellyfish
- It comes under the class “Hydrozoa”.
- Its other names are Benjamin button jellyfish and Medusa, etc.
- It is biologically immortal.
- It is unknown what the age of the immortal jellyfish is.
- It’s regeneration process is called “Transdifferentiation” which gives indefinite life by reverting the age to polyp stage.
- The gene in mitochondrial DNA (mRNA) was discovered to be responsible for its transformation.
- A scientist named Shin Kubota from Kyoto University of Japan has managed to keep a group of immortal jellyfish for a long period of time.
FAQS about Oldest Immortal Jellyfish
What do they feed on
They are Carnivorous animals as they feed on prey like: fish eggs, plankton, small mollusks and brine shrimp, etc.
What eats them
They become lunch of the Predators such as larger jellyfish, sea anemones, tuna, sharks, swordfish, sea turtles and penguins, etc.
What is the oldest immortal jellyfish
Turritopsis dohrnii is the oldest immortal jellyfish which until we find upto now. They initially came from the Mediterranean Sea.
can the immortal jellyfish live forever
Yes, they can live forever by transforming back into a polyp (childhood stage) which produces genetically a new identical jellyfish. This happens in two conditions, first when they become aged and settle down to the seafloor and become a polyp. Second, when they get physically harmed or start to starve.
What is the lifespan of an immortal jellyfish
Theoretically, they can live indefinitely unless they do not become prey or they get physical damage and food hunger.
Is the Immortal Jellyfish really immortal or does it have a lifespan?
Actually they remain immortal if they die naturally. When they start aging then, they form into a polyp and again become a new identical jellyfish. So, you can somehow say they have lifespan. But we normally tell the lifespan for which thing, for the thing which borns and dies but in this case it never dies until they become prey of Predators.
Where is the immortal jellyfish found
Immortal Jellyfish is found in warmer waters, although they have also been spotted in cold areas as well. Turritopsis dohrnii originated from the Mediterranean Sea whereas Turritopsis Nutricula originated from the Caribbean Sea. Formerly, Turritopsis Nutricula was classified as Turritopsis dohrnii.
Which type of jellyfishes are immortal and are living in which part of the sea
Turritopsis dohrnii is the immortal jellyfish and it lives worldwide in temperate to tropical waters of the sea.
How is immortal jellyfish able to return to its youth and live forever
They do this through the process of Transdifferentiation, which alters the differentiated state of the cells and transforms them into new types of cells. In result, new types of cells form polyp and through which new identical jellyfish are born.
What are unique to the immortal jellyfish
The most unique thing about immortal jellyfish is that they survive indefinitely and when becoming old they generate themselves and go backwards in age to the Childhood from where they started to live. This process repeats again and again which makes T. dohrnii biologically “immortal jellyfish”.
What happens when it is injured?
When it is injured at that time cells of the dead body form into polyps and through which new jellyfish are born. If due to injury, their central nerve is destroyed then the immortal jellyfish will also die.
How did scientists discover that Turritopsis dohrnii (the immortal jellyfish) is immortal?
A Scientist named “Ferdinando Boero” discovered this accidently when he was researching about the hydrozoan life cycle i.e. jellyfish become mature and spawn sperms and eggs. He found something quite different in the T. dohrnii life cycle and he thought it can really live forever. As by doing so many findings and research, so-called “immortal jellyfish” were found.
Immortal Jellyfish can unlock the secret of immortality. Scientists are researching them in hope of finding the cure for the issue of Human Aging and Diseases.
We all want to live longer. If this technology is developed and experimented on humans then we will live 1000 years or even more in the future.
Who knows will Humans become immortal.