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Shin Kubota, a professor at Kyoto University, sings a song about the sea creature that he is most passionate about; jellyfish. Kubota thinks he found the secret to human immortality in a species of jellyfish. There are many ways to handle life’ stress, for example, exercising, meditating, eating, freaking out, or just ignoring it. As time goes on, our challenges get more and more complex. Each year feels like we’ve entered a harder level of a video game, except we only have one life. We end up closing our eyes and wishing we can revert to a simpler stage in life; the easy times.

Perhaps if we could, we would jump back to the time when we were just a baby. All our needs were catered to, all we had to do was cry. The whole idea of starting over and escaping our escalating challenges is amazing, however dwelling on the concept is pointless mainly because it’s humanly impossible, so we thought. Who would have ever thought they’d be jealous of a jellyfish?

Shin Kubota began studying jellyfish back in 1979. The scarlet jellyfish caught his attention, and ever since he focuses a majority of his studies on them. According to Kubota, these jellyfish do not die; instead, they rejuvenate themselves. Kubota claims they are one of three species of jellyfish in Japan that are immortal.

The marine biologist first realized the fantastic skill of the scarlet jellyfish when he was observing his plankton net. He saw that one of the jellyfish was injured. Sharp sticks poked into its body, harming it. “I thought ‘poor thing’ and removed all of the sticks, hoping it may become better and swim again. But it didn’t and shrunk. However, it rejuvenated!” Kubota said in an interview.

scarlet jellyfish

When he says that the jellyfish are immortal, we imagine that they age but do not die. However, this assumption is incorrect. If the scarlet jellyfish were human, they would never reach a point where their skin sags and their body slowly gives out. They’re also unlike mythical vampires that simply do not age. The immortality of scarlet jellyfish is a lot like that of the Phoenix that rises from its ashes. They reach a certain physical age; then, when the time is right, they revert to infancy. When the adult scarlet jellyfish experience an injury, it swims to the bottom of the ocean floor. From there, it changes its body back into the beginning stage of its known as a polyp. The polyp can go through two-month cycles of infancy and adulthood.

In his lab, Kubota was able to make scarlet jellyfish rejuvenate itself twelve times. Although the discovery is fascinating, Kubota has a lot more questions to answer before he can pinpoint the key to the rejuvenation process. Once he’s able to do so, he aims to find a similar key within humans. “There should be a key to rejuvenation in the system of scarlet jellyfish,” says Kubota. “I’d like to believe it could be applied to human beings because genetically, jellyfish and humans are not so different.”