It’s recently been discovered that a species of jellyfish, the turritopsis nutricula, can revert back to its first stage of life, meaning it is the only known animal* with no natural limit on its lifespan. It could theoretically live forever when kept away from predators and other dangers, for example, if I were to keep one in a wading pool in my basement. And I do. But it’s still in danger of becoming the sea monster in one of my home movies. You can see one of my upcoming productions on the SyFy channel on a Saturday night, probably.
Anyway, this jellyfish is able to be immortal because it has inside it blood of kings can perform transdifferentiation, changing one type of cell into another. Some animals can perform limited transdifferentiation (e.g. starfish regrowing limbs), but turritopsis nutricula can turn back the aging process on all of its cells. Which sounds awesome, until you realize we’re going to be up to here *points to crotch* with these f’n things someday:
Because they are able to bypass death, the number of individuals is spiking. They’re now found in oceans around the globe rather than just in their native Caribbean waters. “We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion,” says Dr. Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute. [Yahoo via Fark]
Well, we’re boned. How are we supposed to get rid of millions of an animal that doesn’t taste good? Our only hope — I mean our only hope — is to genetically engineer a super race of hyperintelligent sharks who enjoy the taste of jellyfish. They should also have arms with opposable thumbs, in order to grip weapons for hunting the jellyfish. This plan could not possibly go wrong.
* The Hydra may be able to do this also, but it hasn’t been conclusively proven yet.