When in Doubt, Jellyfish

When in Doubt, Jellyfish

The title just about explains my situation. I won’t delve into what is pressing me for time or sapping me of my creativity tonight, but I will dive into the deep sea (metaphorically) to fish (metaphorically) some information up for you regarding a jellyfish that never dies. Kind of. Those of you who have length issues in reports, I wouldn’t recommend following Drake’s example and suddenly bursting into jellyfish discussion mid-report to meet that 900 word minimum. While your professor would no doubt be impressed by your nautical knowledge and swagger, he would still probably give you an F for being completely off-topic.

Somewhere far (kind of), far away, deep beneath the waves is a tiny organism, about four to five millimeters in length. This is a jellyfish that goes by the scientific name Turritopsis Nutricula but would really prefer that everyone just called him Ted. So we’re going to call him Ted. Ted, you see, is technically an ageless creature. Yes, it does age just like you, me, and the tree, but Ted doesn’t necessarily die of aging. Whenever Ted has a problem in adulthood, such as starvation, nearby predators, etc., Ted can attach to something and transform into the jellyfish equivalent of a baby. Ted, or the “Immortal” Jellyfish, is covered in stem cells and wild-card cells. So he instinctively knows how to change them around, nerve cells might become muscle cells, skin cells might become muscle cells, whatever is needed at the time to ensure that he doesn’t have to go to the jellyfish retirement home.

What? Why does this matter, Drake?

I’ll get to that. Gimme a sec.

Ted can basically live his life over and over again, provided he has an environment warm enough for the transformation to take place in. Highly adaptive, you can find Ted in environments ranging from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, just about any warm waters, and Ted has been shown to adapt and evolve to some degree when faced with harsher environments.

I was a bit incredulous, but the scientific community hasn’t actually paid this much attention given what it could mean for humanity. The mindset of some (not all) of the scientists who work on it is, “If they can do it, we can copy them.” In other words, the scientists that are researching them are looking for ways they can apply the traits of the jellyfish to humans to cure diseases, or to find interesting things about the jellyfish or the business of cells in general. Think about that for a second and apply the state of the jellyfish to yourself. You will never die of old age, all you have to do is sit there for a bit and bam, you’re a baby. Well, Ted can take care of himself as a baby, not so sure about you (no offense).

On another note, some are worried. Death is the third part of the triangle-octagon-thing of life. It’s a motivator for actions and a serious help when it comes to keeping the environment from becoming overpopulated. If they’re never going to die, all they can do is grow in number, and grow in number, and grow in number…furthermore, their ability to adapt to other environments and perform minor evolutions to adapt might be seen as disturbing. However, Ted’s evil world domination plan has one loophole that has kept us the sovereign species of the sea so far: The polyp state he reverts to post-youthifying himself is actually a prolonged state of vulnerability. He can’t turn back time as only a little polyp, and he will find himself subject to whatever conditions he is stuck in at the time, be they predator-infested waters or an area with no food.

There’s a lot we can do with this jellyfish, that it can do for us, that it could do in the name of world domination, but I’ve tried to keep it all very unbiased and informational. To give my own two cents, I, for one, welcome our new jellyfish overlords.

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