The Secret Behind the Immortal Jellyfish

As the name implies this jellyfish can theoretically live forever. Although it may seem far-fetched, the immortal jellyfish, also known as the Benjamin Button jellyfish, is one of few known animals that can regenerate themselves and live forever. According to scientists, it is the only jellyfish species that has an indefinite lifespan. Also its scientific name is called Turritopsis dohrnii and was discovered in 1883 in the Mediterranean Sea. It was 100 years later, in the 1980s, that their immortality was accidentally discovered.

As we know, jellyfish can’t do anything except float around. These immortal jellyfish are a tiny species only reaching a size of around 4-5mm. In addition, they are transparent and have a large stomach which is bright red and has a cruciform shape in the cross-section. Similar to octopus they are amazing creatures shrouded in mystery concerning their brain, blood and heart. So how does a jellyfish with no brain, heart and even blood mange to theoretically live forever and being only 4-5mm.

(Please refer to the above image and below text by

One day a marine biology student from Italy collected a medusa (mature/fully grown jellyfish) from the sea near Genoa and left it in a bowl of seawater to study. In a fortunate twist of fate, the student forgot to refrigerate the specimen as they had intended and when they returned were amazed to find the medusa had disappeared. But the bowl was not empty, apparently in the spot where the medusa had laid lifeless was a brand new polyp (jellyfish third stage).
After exploring alternative hypotheses the only explanation that remained was that the medusa had regenerated itself into previous forms of it's life cycle. So it seems rather than dying, in times of chronic stress, starvation and injury, these jellies are capable of reversing their life cycle. Meaning these creatures can theoretically live forever, given no harm in the polyp stage and no disease or loss of food and habitat in the medusa stage.

It’s Not What You Think

Although these jellyfish can cheat death by reversing their life cycle, we as human beings don’t have that ability. If you were thinking about consuming them- DON’T! Like any other jellyfish they have around 80 stingers and it’s the genetics that gave them this amazing ability. Take a minute and wonder though, what if we did have that ability? How amazing would that be? Even though these jellyfish are considered immortal they still can’t escape death. Although they regularly reset to a sexually immature stage, they will eventually die from many factors such as starvation. Another factor is being eaten by predators such as sharks, tuna, swordfish, and even sea turtles. Lastly, being removed from the water or acquiring a disease.

According to Harry Baker and marine madness. The blog says, “ The secret lies within the cells of the jellyfish that have some very special properties. All cells within an organism are differentiated into a certain type which is controlled by the switching on and off of certain genes.”

Overview: Although these jellyfish, like many other creatures around the world, are still shrouded in mystery, some researchers say immortal jellyfishes can theoretically live forever. In a process called transdifferentiation, these jellyfish can transform dying adult cells into new healthy cells, effectively regenerating their entire body and then continuing their lifecycle. However, they can still die like many other jellyfish from starvation, being eaten by predators and by simply being out of the waters.

Here is a video for a quick summary: The Immortal Jellyfish - Turritopsis dohrnii

Sources: (Info & Images)

15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All