The Eternal Jellyfish

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The “Medusa stage,” the second stage of jellyfish’s life, is what most of us picture when we think of a jellyfish. They spend this phase of their existence as opacity-filled floating balloons with trailing tentacles.

If the beginning of a jellyfish’s existence wasn’t thrilling enough, the end is much more thrilling. When the everlasting jellyfish medusa (Turritopsis dohrnii) dies, it descends to the ocean floor and decays. Its cells then reaggregate, but not into a new medusa, but into polyps, from which new jellyfish emerge. The jellyfish has returned to an earlier stage of life to start over.

The eternal jellyfish isn’t the only creature capable of rising from its own ashes. A moon jellyfish (aurelia aurita) was housed in a tank by a marine biology student in China in 2011. He stored the body in another tank after it died. Three months later, a new small polyp sprang from the moon jellyfish’s top. This regeneration process has already been discovered in five different jellyfish species.

Although jellyfish are edible and larger species are consumed, especially in Asian countries, the immortal jellyfish is not considered a pet and is not utilized in cooking due to its small size.

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