Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Immortal Jellyfish (yay! I'm back!)

Well now that I finished a major part of my dissertation, I feel I have more time to return to blogging! So here we are again!

Today someone on reddit mentioned something quite interesting about life in the depth of the ocean which lead to alot of reading on the net.  The following are three amazing creatures of the oceans and seas that I want to share.

First, the immortal jellyfish (pictured) that can practically return to its youth after sexual maturity and repeat its biological life-cycle indefinitely!  They would actually carry out the transformation in times of hardship and physical damage so that in a sense they would get another chance at things!

Another sea creature worth mentioning amongst the immortals is the lobster.  Apparently their DNA contains a gene that will repair deteriorating cells and thus technically, they never age but still continue to grow in size!  The article on the lobster end with a brief mention of something known as the Hayflick limit stating that due to this limit we cannot introduce immortality to humanity as it will only lead to cancerous cells.  I did a brief research on what the Hayflick limit is and my understanding is that it is a limit to the number of times a human cell can divide (through mitosis) to continue the growing process.  Research discovered three stages to a cell's life;
Hayflick found that cells go through three phases. The first is rapid, healthy cell division. In the second phase, mitosis slows. In the third stage, senescence, cells stop dividing entirely. They remain alive for a time after they stop dividing, but sometime after cellular division ends, cells do a particularly disturbing thing: Essentially, they commit suicide. Once a cell reaches the end of its life span, it undergoes a programmed cellular death called apoptosis.

The last mention to the fantastic world beneath the seas and oceans goes to the octopus and their amazing brains.  Not only are their brains larger relative to their size than any other animal except for birds and mammals, but they also have areas of their brain completely dedicated to memory and learning.  Furthermore, like humans, they have a preference as to whether they're left or right oriented in the sense that there is preference for the use of the right or the left eye.  According to the article on Discover;

Such lateralization, corresponding to our right- and left-handedness, suggests specialization in the brain's hemispheres, which is believed to improve its efficiency and which was first considered an exclusively human, then an exclusively vertebrate, attribute.
It is also worth mentioning that like dolphins and dogs, Octopuses enjoy playing and they each have different personalities and characters and thus react differently to different situations.  The Youtube video linked to earlier further mentions their ability to detect light from their body rather than their colour blind eyes which just imagining how that would appear is absolutely mind blowing!