One of the reasons this page is interesting to you guys is that you’ll find information and subject matter that you rarely find anywhere else. Part of that is that I have an enquiring mind and have come to view a good day as any day I learn something new. The other part is that news feeds seem to deliver stranger news to me than to others (people are always asking where I find my stories). It’s difficult knowing things that aren’t that commonly known though, and has lead to more than one awkward silence as I say something that confuses those around me. Consider the following conversation that you can find here:
Darko – “Dennis, I will never die.”
Me – “You’re a jellyfish?”
Then everyone gets confused, the awkward silences start, and I want to die a little. Yeah, you get how it goes.
Meet the Turritopsis Nutricula. Like most jellyfish the Turritopsis Nutricula has two distinct states to it’s lifespan – the polypoid stage and the medusa stage. The polypoid stage is the childhood of the creature where it is just a small stalk with feeding tentacles. The medusa stage is shown in the image and is the fully grown jellyfish, where it is able to reproduce. Now here’s where things get interesting. Where most jellyfish have a lifespan that can range between a couple of hours and several months, Turritopsis Nutricula has found a way to expand that short lifespan so that it will never die of old age. This particular jellyfish has learned to switch back to its polypoid stage at will, allowing it to grow to be an adult again and again. This creature has learned to cheat death through old age.
Of course, while Turritopsis Nutricula is biologically immortal, that doesn’t mean they never die. The polypoid stage in particular is unusually weak against predators and disease (studies are underway to see if this is due to cellular degeneration after repeatedly reverting to a younger stage). That hasn’t stopped scientists from noticing the similarities between the process Turritopsis Nutricula uses to get younger and our own cellular regeneration capabilities and attempting to find a way for humans to do the same thing.
My thoughts on this have been well documented in an absolutely haunting song by Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever?