“Theoretically, this cycle can repeat indefinitely, rendering it potentially immortal,” reports the Times of London.
And marine biologists say that the creatures, which are native to tropical waters, seem to be spreading rapidly all over the world, aided by the discharge of ships’ ballast water in ports.
“We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion,” said Dr. Maria
Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute, to The
Telegraph, who said that recent genetic analyses have proven that
Turritopsis is spreading.
Marine biologists and geneticists
say that the age reversal is achieved through a cell development
process called transdifferentiation, during which cells change from one
type into another, a process that usually occurs only during organ
regeneration, but seems to be a normal part of the Turritopsis life
The creatures, which are characterized by filmy bells,
revert to their younger selves during times of stress, such as when
food is scarce. While the species normally reproduces with sperm and eggs, it
has the ability to “survive tough times by collapsing into a blob and
then growing back into its youthful, stalklike form,” according to
“This is equivalent to a butterfly that goes back to a caterpillar,” Miglietta said to Science News. Turritopsis nutricula is a solitary predator and a hydrozoan
that measures around 4-5 mm in diameter. It distinguishes itself from
other Hydrozoan cnidarians with the ability of its solitary medusa to
revert to the polyp stage after achieving sexual maturity, and it is
reported that 100 percent of medusa transform in this way in the