The ‘Immortal Jellyfish’ does not have the immortality you would want

Immortal jellyfish

Turritopsis Nutricula (Immortal Jellyfish)


We know for certain two things, we live and then we die? In 1988, man discovered otherwise upon its discovery of the Immortal Jellyfish (Turritopsis Nutricula). Recently, the Immortal Jellyfish has been sprung into the limelight again by an article from the New York Times, in which they ask the question, Can a Jellyfish unlock the secret of immortality?

So what is it that makes the Turritopsis Nutricula immortal? And can it really show us the secret to our own immortality? Unfortunately, the New York Times does not go far in explaining this, for reason of that explanation not actually existing.



Cellular Rejuvenation is Possible

As is detailed in our website, there are many potential methods by which we can become immortal.  The story of the Immortal Jellyfish potentially examples one of those methods – cellular rejuvenation. It is explained in the New York Times article that when the Immortal Jellyfish suffers environmental stress or a physical assault, a process of rejuvenation is initiated and it begins to ‘grow younger’. This though is where the excitement ends. Countless news articles have been written suggesting that this rejuvenation allows the jellyfish to live forever, and that through study we could unlock the secret to human immortality.

What is important to note is that the rejuvenation process seen in the Immortal Jellyfish involves its cells undergoing cellular transdifferentiation, where for example, its skin cells can transform into nerve cells.  The Immortal Jellyfish continues to rejuvenate until it reaches its earliest form of life as a polyp, from where it once again begins to age as any other biological organism, once its environment can supports its life.


Not the immortality we would desire

So, immortality, rejuvenation, ‘growing younger’, is possible.  In the endeavour to apply this ability to ourselves though, as of yet, very little progress has been made, none of which has been made thanks to the Immortal Jellyfish.

A problem with the process seen in the Turritopsis Nutricula is that the rejuvenation process doesn’t stop, it continues until the jellyfish is at its earliest form of life as a polyp. The immortality that we would desire is one that involves the age of our cells being paused, so we neither grow older or younger.

Immortal Jellyfish - Turritopsis NutriculaWorse yet, the cells of the Turritopsis Nutricula do not only grow younger but also transdifferentiate, becoming something that they were not previously. The concern here is the retention of the human memories and consciousness during rejuvenation; our memories would be wiped during the process.

While the Turritopsis Nutricula is rejuvenating, it is losing its form while on the journey to the door from which it entered the world, the door which leads to inexistence, death. Once its cells are completely rejuvenated and it is on the brink of death, it once again grows as a reset organism. Everything that it becomes upon growing is continually reset. This is not an immortality that anybody would desire.

Another point is the possibility that it is not actually ‘growing younger’, but is instead simply transforming into a polyp via the most efficient route, which would explain the bastardisation of its cells.

Also, if it resets its biology, how does it evolve? How does it learn to better survive in its environment? Perhaps it is now incapable of evolution and is only immortal because of a genetic fault; instead of acting to repair the damage of an injury, it instead triggers the release of chemicals which happen to reset its biology – not the desirable reaction to most injuries. This would explain why it has only been found to have spread around the world since it was first discovered in 1988; the genetic fault may have only occurred soon before it was discovered, and its populace is now aided by the parent Jellyfish not dying naturally.

Very little is left then that is desirable to acquire from the biology of the Turritophis Nutriculais. Scientists have already previously discovered how to reprogramme adult cells and guide them into once again becoming stem cells through the manual induction chemicals, without the help of the Turritophis Nutriculais.

Find more information about human immortality on our Immortality introduction page. 

  • Walt Zinsmeister

    This writer is clearly misguided and not able to contemplate the possibility involved with this. His evaluation of a poor mechanism for self defense is actually a very powerful one. There is no evidence that memories are lost during this process and to be able to replicate this time and time again with memories in tact is phenomenal. Not to mention, even if memories are lost, if at an elderly age of 80-90 we encounter a horrific experience that results in one being re transformed into a toddler.. I’m not seeing a disadvantage there either. Close minded evaluations like these are really a poor example of unbiased journalism, and this guy should reevaluate his career.

    • … This writer has clearly contemplated the rejuvenation process of the Turritopsis Nutricula as fully as possible, having prior read all necessary research papers (my opinion).

      I didn’t evaluate the defence mechanism as being poor. I’m not however going to say that you fail to understand what I have written. That would be rude, wouldn’t it? Instead, I’ll tell you where I agree/disagree with you – I think that would make for a much more pleasant discussion.

      There is evidence that memories are lost: The whole biology of the Turritopsis Nutricula reverts back to a pulp. Brain cells are therefore morphed into other types of cells, everything is reset. If I take this computer and melt it down, I’m betting I will lose the data on my hard drive.

      I give reason why perhaps (I say the word “perhaps” in the article), the rejuvenation process might not allow the jellyfish to evolve. I didn’t say it was a bad thing – If you are an immortal species, you don’t need to evolve, because your species will always have time to find an environment that suits you.

      Calling my evaluation closed minded? Again, after rereading more than 2 years later.. completely disagree. I look everyday online at the latest studies etc about anything relating to life extension. I want humanity to become immortal asap. If anything, I am biased towards wanting the immortal jellyfish to unlock the keys to our immortality.

      I personally do not see the advantage of turning back into a baby and having everything about me reset (my opinion).

      I have reevaluated my choice of career, and I think I’ll stick with it, thanks for the advice anyway.

      Ow hey, check out this video, which just so happens to agree with me. Feel free to tell the people in that company to reevaluate their careers

  • John Smith

    DOCTOR WHO Regeneration!! haha!

  • Random Visitor

    What a misleading title. There are different types of immortality and thus you should state if it meets one of them or not.

    • Thanks. Agreed, so I changed the title to “The ‘Immortal Jellyfish’ does not have the immortality you would want”

  • John

    This raised an interesting thought experiment for me. Hypothetically, it may be possible to do this or something similar if the AI singularity actually happens. If a person rejuvenated in this way, they would likely experience a physical ‘death’ in most senses of the word, especially if they rejuvenated down to the just millions (or perhaps less) of cells. Consciousness would be lost completely. but their ‘soul’ would be guaranteed survival (if we hypothetically had mastered the practice of rejuvenation to basic state). The person would likely form a completely different identity in their ‘next’ life. Hypothetically, this could this be a potential way to experience human afterlife… with guaranteed survival.

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