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Immortal Jellyfish

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There is a new global imbalance on the horizon.  A jellyfish, the Turritopsis Nutricula, formerly indigenous to the Caribbean, is spreading unchecked throughout the world’s oceans.  This small 5cm jellyfish’s population has exploded across the globe. Research scientists have discovered that this jellyfish possess a unique capability to revert back into a juvenile form once it mates and becomes mature.

The immortal Turritopsis Nutricula
The immortal Turritopsis Nutricula

The jellyfish is technically known as a hydrozoan, a class of small jellyfish that have four tentacles and do not exceed 1/8 of an inch in size.  The process of reverting back into juvenile form is called transdifferentiation.  Research scientists believe that this cycle can repeat indefinitely, rendering it potentially immortal.  This is the only known species that is capable of reverting completely back to its younger self.  Most jellyfish usually die after they propagate.  The Turritopsis Nutricula is the only species that has developed this unique ability to return to a polyp state.  Marine biologists and geneticists are racing to discover how this little creature manages to literally reverse its aging process.  The obvious scientific implications of discovering this jellyfish’s immortality is beyond hyperbole.  Humankind potentially has the genetic solution at its fingertips on how to end aging.  Solving aging related issues and death from natural causes, could become the next scientific and ethical frontiers we all face.  It will not end death from war, starvation, and accidents, but the global implications for a population of humans never dying, would put pressure on our limited resources as we continue to add people who never die. This in itself is a frightening consequence of immortality for humanity and our planet.  Future human conflict would callously center around ways to cull the human herds that would overwhelm the planet.  Not a scenario I would personally favor.  Helping people live longer isn’t such a bad thing, but living forever?  That is another question I’m not sure I would want to face.

John Vlahakis

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