THE IM­MOR­TAL JEL­LY­FISH

No big­ger than a hu­man pinky, Tur­ri­top­sis dohrnii, com­monly re­ferred to as the im­mor­tal jel­ly­fish, pos­sesses the baf­fling abil­ity to live for­ever – that is, un­til a preda­tor pounces.

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1 All jel­ly­fish ex­ist in two forms: polyp form and medusa form. While most grow from polyp to medusa, the im­mor­tal jel­ly­fish can al­ter­nate be­tween both forms

2 Like all jel­ly­fish, it has no brain nor heart

3 The im­mor­tal jel­ly­fish re­pro­duces both sex­u­ally and asex­u­ally. When at the brink of death, the im­mor­tal jel­ly­fish can re­vert back to the polyp stage and start its life cy­cle all over again. For­tu­nately, there is no limit to the num­ber of times they can do this!

4 This abil­ity is achieved through a rare process called trans­d­if­fer­en­ti­a­tion: the ac­tion of a ma­ture, spe­cialised cell trans­form­ing into a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ma­ture, spe­cialised cell. Sci­en­tists have been study­ing this cel­lu­lar mech­a­nism for its po­ten­tial use in medicine

5 De­spite be­ing dis­cov­ered way back in 1883, the spe­cial abil­ity of this species was only re­alised in the mid-1990s

6 Sci­en­tist Shin Kub­ota, who has spent more than 15 years study­ing th­ese or­gan­isms at Ky­oto Univer­sity’s Seto Ma­rine Bi­o­log­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory, found that cer­tain con­di­tions pre­vent rein­vig­o­ra­tion: star­va­tion, large bell size and wa­ter colder than 22 de­grees Cel­sius

7 Im­mor­tal jel­ly­fish are also known to be “hitch­hik­ers”. They have been recorded hitch­ing rides on cargo ships that use sea­wa­ter for bal­last. This phe­nom­e­non has al­lowed the species to rapidly pop­u­late the world’s oceans in re­cent decades

AP­PEAR­ANCE: This jel­ly­fish has a bright-red stom­ach, seen in the mid­dle of its trans­par­ent bell. Its edges are lined with 80 to 90 white ten­ta­cles, though given its small size, they are barely vis­i­ble.

CLASS: Hy­dro­zoaOTHER NAMES: Medusa, ben­jamin but­ton jel­ly­fishDIS­TRI­BU­TION: Orig­i­nat­ing from the Mediter­ranean Sea, this unique crea­ture has spread all over the world, and can now be found in both tem­per­ate and trop­i­cal re­gions, though it prefers warmer wa­tersSIZE: Up to 4-5 mil­lime­tres tall and wide

Mediter­raneanSea

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