The Immortal Species
January 30, 2008 12:33 AM   Subscribe

While the dream of immortality might be as old as mankind, the jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula (image) seems to be living it:
The hydrozoan Turritopsis nutricula has evolved a remarkable variation on this theme, and in so doing appears to have achieved immortality. The solitary medusa of this species can revert to its polyp stage after becoming sexually mature (Bavestrello et al., 1992; Piraino et al., 1996). In the laboratory, 100% of these medusae regularly undergo this change. Thus, it is possible that organismic death does not occur in this species!
An in-depth research paper.
posted by Foci for Analysis (48 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Jellyfish are just like so great, aren't they?
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:38 AM on January 30, 2008


I, for one, welcome our new Recursive Zombie Jellyfish Overlords.

This is cool. My dad is a jellyfish biologist but I never heard of this one before. I did used to get a nickel for a polyorchis and a buck for a nanomia when I was a kid.
posted by Rumple at 12:47 AM on January 30, 2008


KILL IT WITH FIRE
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:56 AM on January 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


If the only way for me to achieve immortality is to go through puberty again, then I'm not interested. No thanks, jelly fish.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:06 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Orgasmic death?

That doesn't sound too bad...
posted by Djinh at 1:44 AM on January 30, 2008


La petite mort - maybe the French know a little more than they're letting on...
posted by From Bklyn at 2:34 AM on January 30, 2008


Thus, it is possible that organismic death does not occur in this species!

THROW IT INTO A RIVER IN CHINA
posted by three blind mice at 2:42 AM on January 30, 2008


The science starts down a slippery path here with jellyfish. Soon ethics will become an issue. What if they start researching immortal porpoises?
posted by hal9k at 3:08 AM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Y'all are a bunch of clowns. This is amazing!
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:14 AM on January 30, 2008


How very Gallifreyan of them.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:50 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


All those papers and stuff are like 10 years old. Anything happened since then? I will assume at least that the jellyfish are still alive.
posted by poppo at 4:17 AM on January 30, 2008


The good news: You can live forever!
The bad news: You have to be a jellyfish, sorry.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:50 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Without peanut butter, it's just not worth living forever.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:34 AM on January 30, 2008


Whoever knew the grey goo would come in the form of jellyfish.
posted by davemee at 5:39 AM on January 30, 2008


Scratch peanut butter... Without Bacon it's just not worth living forever!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:44 AM on January 30, 2008


So the trick is to be reincarnated as a jellyfish on a peanut-and-hog farm?

That'll be easy.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:00 AM on January 30, 2008


KILL IT WITH FIRE
THROW IT INTO A RIVER IN CHINA


Hey, guys? I don't want to be a total poindexter or buzzkill or anything and I think it's a great plan and all that, but I help but observe that they do indeed, actually, live in water.

I recommend that we nuke them from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by loquacious at 6:03 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I help but
^can't
posted by loquacious at 6:04 AM on January 30, 2008


So, if this jellyfish never dies, and they are able to reproduce, why is the ocean not chock full o' jellyfish? Too much Japanese 'scientific' sampling?
posted by Pecinpah at 6:33 AM on January 30, 2008


Well, it never dies via programmed cellular mechanisms, apparently, but you can still kill it (with a stake through its heart).
posted by Mister_A at 6:37 AM on January 30, 2008


It's like a mid-life crisis that works.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:37 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I like the way it can trans-differentiate/undifferentiate cells. What about the telomeres though? Do the somatic cells express telomerase? Cuz otherwise eventually, the whole system will break down, no?
posted by Mister_A at 6:43 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I suddenly feel conflicted about this afternoon's jellyfish appetizer....
posted by squasha at 7:03 AM on January 30, 2008


Ah, the follies of youth. I also thought I would never die when I went through puberty.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2008


Without peanut butter, it's just not worth living forever.

Obviously, what the world needs is an immortal, regenerating peanut butter and jelly fish. I'll be rich! Rich I tell you!
posted by The Bellman at 8:01 AM on January 30, 2008


Metroids are scary.
posted by rlk at 8:02 AM on January 30, 2008


KILL IT WITH FIRE
THROW IT INTO A RIVER IN CHINA

... I also thought I would never die when I went through puberty.


Give it a BMW M5. Too soon?
posted by The Bellman at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Give it a BMW M5.

The driver wouldn't be the only fatality. Think of the innocent loss of jelly life..
posted by crunch buttsteak at 9:05 AM on January 30, 2008


THROW IT INTO A RIVER IN CHINA

Hell, dude, throw it in the Gowanus Canal.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:30 AM on January 30, 2008


Lobsters are pretty cool, too. And others.
posted by Skwirl at 9:40 AM on January 30, 2008


I guess massive polution of the oceans has an upside. Assuming these beasts are affected by polution. I think the question on everyone's mind is: "How do they taste?"
posted by blue_beetle at 10:00 AM on January 30, 2008


Don't dream it. Be it.
posted by ooga_booga at 10:21 AM on January 30, 2008


"How do they taste?"

Immortal-ee.
posted by tkchrist at 10:44 AM on January 30, 2008


Whoever knew the grey goo would come in the form of jellyfish.

I thought jellyfish were about 99% grey goo*.

*this supposition is based entirely on cartoons and video games
posted by maus at 11:42 AM on January 30, 2008


If I eat enough tasty immortal jellyfish, will I acquire immortality?
posted by porpoise at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2008


If you eat ALL of them. There can be only one.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:11 PM on January 30, 2008


GODDAMMIT JELLYFISH. They're massacring our salmon, spreading their vile seed across the ocean faster than rabbits do across dry land, and mucking up our precious, precious beaches! And now they've discovered the secrets of immortality? This is the End Times, I tell you, by God, these creatures are going to create a Jellfyish Hell from whence there will be no escape. Next thing you know they're going to go snakefish on us and find out how to survive on dry land, and then they'll be in our homes, our gardens, eating our food and our children and our pets . . . It's their plan! It's coming clear! The Master Jellyfish Takeover!

I HATE THEM SO MUCH
posted by schroedinger at 12:42 PM on January 30, 2008


What do they do, really? Who do they help? They are parasites. Vicious little parasites. One day we will find out they have a hive mind, there is probably some giant jellyfish nest in the ocean with their Queen. She sends out her evil, stinging soldiers on her missions of DOOM. Devoted to our utter destruction, she will stop at nothing to extend her cruel, painful tentacles across the Earth.

Or maybe they are like the Borg. Maybe that's what's happening with all the extinctions in the ocean. It's the fucking jellyfish turning all other ocean species into more jellyfish. Those fucking monsters.
posted by schroedinger at 12:47 PM on January 30, 2008


And for all of those people that are all like "But they're so pretty!" and shit, well, fuck you, you've been drawn in by their hypnotic powers! Wake up and smell the brine! You think they're here to be pretty? They're here to destroy us! They're pretty the way a mushroom cloud is pretty. When you look at them you look at the face of death.
posted by schroedinger at 12:56 PM on January 30, 2008


an in-depth research paper

ha.
posted by tawny at 2:21 PM on January 30, 2008


one day we will find out they have a hive mind


Funny you mention that -- some "jellyfish" (which is not really a valid taxon) were among the first animals to show super-organismal coordination by creating colonies of individual organisms each of which then took on specific functions useful for the organism as a whole. The Portugese Man-o-War is such a colony that gives the macroscopic appearance of being a single organism but is composed of co-operating individual siphonophores. It may indeed be possible for such a complex organism/s to see some sort of emergent sentience or purpose though such a thing has never been observed. Fuck the Ocean, indeed.
posted by Rumple at 2:54 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I shall inherit the earth.
I also pretend to be an experimental metal band.
posted by Rashomon at 2:56 PM on January 30, 2008


AH FUCK I KNEW IT! Fuck me, Rumple, fuck me! Fuck all of us!
posted by schroedinger at 2:59 PM on January 30, 2008


DreamFilter: Fuck me, Rumple, fuck me!
posted by Rumple at 3:18 PM on January 30, 2008


"And both the undying fish that swim, Through Bowscale Tarn did wait on him"
posted by tellurian at 5:03 PM on January 30, 2008


Unfortuanately for everyone but the jellyfish, this information is of dubious value for humans, because to make an alteration in the evolvement of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence can't be revised once it's established.

I know this to be the case, because Tyrell told me so!
posted by markkraft at 5:14 PM on January 30, 2008


AH FUCK I KNEW IT! Fuck me, Rumple, fuck me! Fuck all of us!

Um, can opt out of the wide-spread fucking being offered up here? No offense Rumple. I'm just not that into you. thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:50 AM on February 1, 2008


schroedinger - just for that, I'm going to make it my life's work to cross Portugese Man-o-Wars with something like a Lungfish.

too bad their tentacles won't let them wander around on land

but then again, if I splice in a couple of hox genes, I might be able to give them muscles in their mantle, letting them pull themselves overground.

posted by porpoise at 9:45 PM on February 4, 2008


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