The Immortal Jellyfish

Turritopsis nutricula, commonly referred to as the Immortal Jellyfish, is a species of jellyfish common to the West Atlantic. It is only about five millimeters wide when fully grown. Despite its small size however, T. nutricula may hold the key to huge medical breakthroughs in humans! Its secret? This jellyfish does not experience natural cell death. Instead, through a process called transdifferentiation, T. nutricula is capable of transforming its cells into a younger state (Bavastrello et al. 1992).

T. nutricula is a member of the cnidarian phylum. This phyla is characterized by two basic body plans: the mobile medusa and the sessile polyp. Being a cnidarian also means that this creature has cnidocytes, or stinging cells, to help it capture its prey (Campbell et al. 2008)

When seeing images of Turritopsis nutricula, it is easy to assume that it is a large jellyfish. It is important to keep in mind that an average T. nutricula is only about three millimeters in length (Schuchert 2004)!



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