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Monday, December 8, 2008

Rad animal of the Day

Turritopsis nutricula

Turritopsis nutricula is a hydrozoan with a life cycle in which it reverts to the polyp stage after becoming sexually mature. It is the only known case of a metazoan capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary stage (Piraino et al. 1996, p. 302). It does this through the cell development process of transdifferentiation. Theoretically, this cycle can repeat indefinitely, rendering it effectively immortal.

Turritopsis nutricula has a diameter of 4-5 millimeters. It has an equally high and bell-shaped figure. The walls are uniformly thin. The bright red, big stomach has a cruciform shape in its cross section. Young specimens have only eight tentacles along the edge, while adult specimens have 80-90 tentacles.


Jellyfish usually die after propagating, however the Turritopsis nutricula has developed the ability to return to a polyp state. This is done through a cell change in the external screen (Exumbrella). The ability to reverse the life cycle is probably unique in the animal kingdom, and allows the jellyfish to bypass death, rendering the Turritopsis nutricula effectively immortal.

Turritopsis nutricula are found in temperate to tropical regions in all of the world's oceans.



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