Turritopsis Nutricula and Turritopsis Dohrnii Essay

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Turritopsis nutricula and Turritopsis dohrnii – The Immortal Jelly Fish Turritopsis dohrnii was discovered in 1988, by Christian Sommer, a German marine-biology student in a small Italian town. In its immature polyp stage the Jellyfish is only about 1 mm long and by maturity is still on 4-5 mm long. Scientists described that the species, during any stage of development, could transform back to a polyp, its earliest stage of life, “thus escaping death and achieving potentially immortality.” Does this appear to debunk one of the most fundamental laws of life, that if after you are born, you have to die? Think of it like a butterfly that instead of dying turns back into a caterpillar. Or a chicken that transforms into an egg. Anthropomorphic analogy says that it is like an old man who grows younger and younger until he is again a fetus. This is why the Turritopsis dohrnii is also known as the Benjamin Button jellyfish. Unfortunately, this discovery barely even registered outside of the academic world. Having learned of the existence of immortal life, you would expect that scientists would start to dedicate enormous amounts of money and resources into learning about how the jellyfish is able to resist death. Perhaps pharmaceutical firms and doctors all over the world would try to gain knowledge of this unending life and try to use it to aid modern medicine. But not much has happened. In the last twenty-five years some progress has been made though. We have learned that the rejuvenation of the Turritopsis dohnii is caused by either environmental stress or physical harm. A jellyfish’s lifespan is usually somewhere between a few hours to several months (it is rare for even larger jellyfish to live to a few years). The Turritopsis is able to transform between medusa and polyp stage, going from a mature stage back to immature, escaping death. During rejuvenation, the

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