Sep 1, 2022
Thought Question: If you had the ability to live forever, what would be some of the benefits and drawbacks?
Old age. Disease. Accidents. Life is filled with danger, and we can only avoid it for so long. But what if we didn't need to deal with aging? What if we could simply go back to our younger selves? That's exactly what Turritopsis dohrnii, the “immortal jellyfish,” does.
Researchers in Spain have figured out how the jellyfish pulls off this trick. They compared its DNA to a similar species. The other jellyfish doesn't have the ability to live forever. So, the scientists figured out which genes make the "immortal jellyfish" different. When it senses threats, the immortal jellyfish reabsorbs its tentacles. It becomes a polyp. That's the name of a jellyfish early in its life. From there, the jellyfish can repeat its life cycle. The process can go on forever.
The National History Museum of London explained that the immortal jellyfish is like "a butterfly which, instead of dying, would be able to transform back into a caterpillar and then (grow) into an adult butterfly once again."
The news has excited scientists, even though we have a long way to go to apply the findings to humans. Still, one author of the study says, “From this … we hope to find better answers to the many diseases associated with aging.”
Photo by Dr. Karen J. Osborn courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Do Fish Have a Home?
This lesson discusses research surrounding the coastal habitats of fish, where habitat protection efforts would be most helpful, and what it will take for fish populations to thrive.
"Habitat Degradation: Ocean Acidification"
In this watercolor and colored pencil piece, scientist and artist Jill Pelto uses ocean pH data to illustrate how ocean acidification affects marine species like clownfish.
The Fish Game
In this game, students will learn how fishing practices and the number of fishing boats in an area can affect fish populations.