The oceans take up about ¾ of the earth’s total area and it is a hotbed for some really unusual creatures that scientists are discovering just now. In fact, more and more unusual water animals wash up on shores and beaches all over the world as the years go by. One unusual ocean creature that proves to be really interesting to scientists and people in general is the immortal jellyfish. Why, just the name itself is enough to make you wonder what earned the jellyfish the grandiose moniker.
• The immortal jellyfish (scientific name – Turritopsis nutricula) was discovered in 1883 in the Mediterranean Sea. However, it’s extremely unique regeneration powers were not known to researchers and scientists until the mid-1990s.
• The unique regeneration process of the mature immortal jellyfish is quite unique. When it is injured or starving, it will attach itself to a surface in warm waters and turns into a sort of living blob. From this blob state, its cells will undergo a process called “transdifferentiation”.
• Transdifferentiation is a process wherein cells will turn into different kinds of cells. For instance, the muscle cells of the immortal jellyfish can turn into egg cells or even sperm cells. Nerve cells may also turn into muscle cells, and this means that the immortal jellyfish has transformation powers, the likes of which have never been seen and unmatched in the animal kingdom.
• Ever since the discovery of the immortal jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea, more identical species have been found in places like the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama, Spain, and even Japan. The reason they are so spread out is that they get caught in ballast waters that come from long-distance ocean cargo vessels.
• Though most of the species are genetically identical, they have come up with different physical adaptations depending on their environments. For instance, specimens that live in tropical waters have 8 tentacles while ones from more temperate regions have 24 tentacles.
• Despite the “immortal” tag, these jellyfish can and do die. For instance, they still get eaten by predators and the process of transdifferentiation only kicks in when they have reached maturity. If they starve or get sick as polyps, they do not regenerate and therefore die.
• The main diet for these jellyfish usually consists of fish eggs, plankton and tiny mollusks.
• These jellyfish are quite small and while they do sting, they are not poisonous like the box jellyfish which is also tiny at just 2.5cm long.