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January 28, 2009, 8:45 pm

Immortality is possible - in jellyfish!

The story sounds unbelievable, but it is true - the jellyfish grows to reach sexual maturity, and then returns to a younger version of itself, and starts all over again!


Of course, not all jellyfish are immortal, but Turritopsis nutricula is a very special jellyfish that seems to repeat its life cycle over and over again without dying.

The cell development process of reverting to a younger form is called transdifferentiation, and just how it works is still largely a mystery.

During normal growth and development, genes are turned on or off in a particluar pattern, so being able to effectively undo the instructions and start again is a remarkable process.

But never mind the DNA of the genes, and how are genes controlled - the fact that the jellyfish are immortal has other implications...

... once an inhabitant of the Carribean only, it is now spreading around the world, hitching a ride in tankers, and of course it never dies! 

Hmmm.  I hope it is friendly!  But don't worry - at only 5mm long, it is unlikely to disturb you while you swim!


Jellyfish are not really fish at all!  Do some research about what kind of animals they are and make a jellyfish model here

Want to keep a jellyfish as a pet?  It's not so easy - read here first to find out how molecules can be a problem before making big plans!