Friday, March 19, 2010
The Immortal Invasion
As if sharks, whales, piranhas, and other water-born terrors were not enough ... say hello to an animal demigod ...
The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth.
Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life).
The key lies in a process called transdifferentiation, where one type of cell is transformed into another type of cell. Some animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation and regenerate organs, such as salamanders, which can regrow limbs. Turritopsi nutricula, on the other hand, can regenerate its entire body over and over again. Researchers are studying the jellyfish to discover how it is able to reverse its aging process.
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.
Slowly, and ever so surely, these immortal jellyfish will come to dominate the seas, stinging (and devouring) anything that sets foot in the water. Cabo San Lucas? Gone. Cancun? have fun spring breakers ... don't forget to sign your wills before you get on that plane ... Kneel before you sea gods!
Clearly, its the first step in limiting where the human population can run to during the Animal Uprising 2012 ... Now less than two years and counting!