To quote good old Freddy Mercury (god rest his soul) “who wants to live forever?” – not me. Imagine the reruns of Hollyoaks you’d have to put up with, not to mention the fact that you’d have to watch all of your friends and relatives die for eternity. It sounds rubbish.
There is one creature that has managed to stop caring about those sorts of things and evolved to become immortal. No mean feat. The creature in question is a type of jellyfish called Turritopsis Nutricula. You might imagine that a creature of the deep that could live forever might be a terrifying multi-headed beast, but they’re actually just globules that measure less than half a centimeter across.
So how do these blobs achieve their eternal life? They kind of do a reverse metamorphosis, in other words, once they’ve reached adulthood they then regress back into their sexually immature polyp phase and start all over again. As many times as they darned well please.
Turritopsis Nutricula are the only known animal that can do this trick. So far all of the individuals they have watched in the lab are capable of living for ever. As you can imagine scientists are going woop-di-doop crazy and hoping to see if Turritopsis Nutricula’s skills can be utilised in medicine in some way. If we can work out how these tiny splats of jelly refresh their entire bodies, perhaps we could find a way to do the same in human skin, or organs.
That’s all a long way off though, for now I’m just concerned they’re going to take over the world. The jellyfish hail from the Caribbean originally but some marine biologists are worried that they are swarming across the globe taking over the food chain. Dr Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute said:
We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion.