Are Jellyfish Immortal? Can Jellyfish Live Forever?

are jellyfish immortal

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Wouldn’t be great if we could live forever. 

Great food for thought if you ask me. 

Immortality has always been subject to discussion in many cultures. For centuries, mankind has spent a lot of time searching for the secret of eternal life. 

Up till this moment, immortality has only existed in fiction stories, myths, and religions. 

However, for the first time since our existence, mankind could be on the verge of discovering something extraordinary. 

What we’ve sought for, we’ve possibly found it in the deepest parts of the ocean. 

Could the jellyfish, a creature from the deep sea, hold the key to eternal life? 

Are jellyfish immortal? Can jellyfish live forever? 

We might finally find the answers to these questions.

Can Jellyfish Live Forever? 

One species of jellyfish could possibly hold the key to immortality. Turritopsiss dohrnii, also known as the immortal jellyfish, is one of the few rare organisms on this planet that can revert itself to a sexually immature stage after having reached sexual maturity. 

It means that it could possibly enter a never-ending cycle, in the process reaching a biological immortality. 

1998 was the year when man had finally discovered the secret of eternal life. A young marine biology student, called by the name Christian Sommer, accidentally came to an astonishing discovery. 

While snorkeling in the turquoise waters near Rapallo, a small city in Italy, he had found, according to the local newspapers, the only animal that cheated death.

Christian Sommer, as aspiring marine biologist, has spent his summer snorkeling and collecting marine organisms so he can observe their behaviors. 

Among the other animals that he had collected, there was one that had piqued his curiosity. It was a small jellyfish, Turritopsiss dohrnii, today known as the immortal jellyfish. 

According to Sommer, this creature refused to die. At any point of its life, it could revert to a polyp, an early stage of its development, starting its life cycle again and again. In plain words, it couldn’t die. 

Biological Immortality & Jellyfish Life Cycle 

Biological immortality is a term used by scientists to describe a state where the chance to die from senescence virtually doesn’t exist. It also means that cells are not subject to the Hayflick limit

In plain English, it means that it can’t die from old age. However, it can still die from other things such as diseases, predators, or lack of food. Thus, the term biological immortality. 

Not all of the jellyfish species have this ability. The Turritopsiss dohrnii is the only known species that can undergo senescence and go through a transformation. 

Its life begins with a fertilized egg that grows into a planula (larval stage). The planula develops into a polyp, which in time transforms in a small jellyfish. The final form is medusa, a sexually reproductive jellyfish. 

For most jellyfish, or animals in general, life cycle stops there. But not for the Turritopsiss dohrnii. 

If some environmental stress, such as starvation, injury or sudden temperature change occurs, it will revert back to its polyp stage. Technically it could live forever in a never-ending life cycle. 

To make this analogy clearer imagine a butterfly transforming back to a caterpillar. Or a frog transforming back to a tadpole. 

If we look at those examples, indeed, it looks impossible. However, it is possible, just by looking the life cycle of the immortal jellyfish. 

Immortal Jellyfish Predators 

The immortal jellyfish is not truly immortal. 

Being only biologically immortal, it means that they can live as long as they are not affected by external factors. 

They can be eaten by predators, they can die by diseases, or they can die from other external factors unknown to us. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How does the immortal jellyfish live forever? 

The immortal jellyfish is one of the few rare organisms on this planet that can revert itself to a sexually immature stage after having reached sexual maturity. At any point in its life, it could revert to a polyp, an early stage of its development, starting its life cycle again and again. In plain words, it couldn’t die. 

Can the immortal jellyfish be killed? 

Jellyfish are only biologically immortal which means they can still die, probably killed by a predator. 

How old is the immortal jellyfish? 

There aren’t documented records of what was the oldest jellyfish that have ever lived. 

Are all jellyfish immortal? 

Most of the jellyfish have a fixed life span. The only known form of immortal jellyfish is the Turritopsiss dohrnii. 

What other animals are immortal? 

While there aren’t other animals that are immortal, there are animals that are similar in terms of biological immortality, such as the hydra and the lobster.

Final Thoughts 

Do these findings hold the key to human immortality? Perhaps… 

In technical terms, biological immortality doesn’t mean it’s true immortality. These organisms could die from other unrelated factors. 

However, if we succeed in unlocking the secrets of immortality, life itself could have a different meaning. 

Until then, the only thing we humans can do, it’s to admire those creatures who apparently have found the secret to eternal life. 

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