Life of Sea | Immortal Jellyfish (Turritopsis nutricula) | Immortal jellyfish is one of the most unique animals in the entire animal kingdom. It may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth. It is able to revert back to a juvenile form once it mates after becoming sexually mature. This jelly is technically known as a hydrozoan and is the only known animal that is capable of reverting completely to its younger self. Immortal jellyfish comes from the Caribbean. But, they have spread throughour the world. Immortal jellyfish are found in temperate to tropical regions in all of the world's oceans. It is believed to be spreading across the world as ships are discharging ballast water in ports. Since the species is immortal, the number of individuals is extremely increasing. Dr. Maria Miglietta from Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute scientist assumes that we are looking at a worldwide silent invasion.
The size of Immortal jellyfish is about 5 mm. It has an equally high and bell-shaped figure. The walls are uniformly thin. The bright red, big stomach has a cruciform shape in its cross section. Young specimens have only 8 tentacles along the edge, while adult specimens have 80-90 tentacles. Immortal jellyfish is the first case in which a metazoan is capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary stage. Jellyfish usually die after propagating. But Immortal jellyfish is different. It reverts to a sexually immature stage after reaching adulthood and is capable of rejuvenating itself. The jellyfish and its reversal of the ageing process is now the focus of research by marine biologists and geneticists. It is thought to achieve the feat through the cell development process of transdifferentiation, in which cells transform from one type to another.
The switching of cell roles is usually seen only when parts of an organ regenerate. However, it appears to occur normally in the Immortal jellyfish life cycle. Immortal jellyfish, a type of jellyfish, is gaining notoriety for its uncanny and unprecedented capacity to de-evolve instead of dying. These jellyfish are the first evidenced metazoan, or multi-celled creature, to demonstrate the ability to revert back to a colonial stage after reaching sexual maturity. After sexually reproducing, most animals inevitably die. Immortal jellyfish, however, undergo a transformation in which they return to a stage of sexual immaturity after reproducing, only to mature and reproduce again, then return to sexual immaturity, and so on. It means that Immortal jellyfish do not die, by nature. They are believed to have an infinity potential lifespan.
Immortal jellyfish are about 5 mm in diameter in sexually mature stage. They have 8-24 tentacles when they are young and up to 90 tentacles as mature adults. Shaped like a bell, their external walls are transparent and their stomachs are large and have a distinctive red color. Immortal jellyfish rejuvenate from sexually mature to colonial through two processes: cell transformation and cell transdifferentiation. Transdifferentiation is one cell transform into a completely different type of cell. By transdifferentiating, these cells are able to change their entire make-up, much like the much-publicized stem cells. After sexually reproducing, the jellyfish reabsorbs all of its external parts and turns into a cyst. The cyst then attaches to the ground and grows into a stalk-shaped polyp colony. These polyps begin a new cycle, where they form into mature jellyfish - all genetically identical. This specimen of Immortal jellyfish shows its majestic being, with its deep red stomach clearly showing.
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