Turritopsis dohrnii is the binomial name of the immortal jellyfish.

I know that those names are often only inspired by Latin and Greek so I was not wondering about the literal meaning but about the roots that were used to create this word. In particular the hr digram feels strange to me and I don't know of any Latin word with it.

  • 2
    I would assume the species name refers to someone with the surname Dohr, possibly the discoverer.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 10:20
  • @dbmag9 If I understand this database correctly marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=151801 it was discovered by Weismann
    – user10176
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 10:24
  • 1
    The specific name is very likely to honor Anton Dohrn. It's common practice to name species and genera after prominent naturalists. Re: the genus, I have no clear idea yet.
    – Rafael
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 11:03
  • @Rafael You must be right for that part of the name, thank you
    – user10176
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 11:19

2 Answers 2


This species was originally called Dendroclava dohrnii in honor of Anton Dohrn (as Rafael noted in his comment). This is affirmed by August Weismann in his book:

Diesen Namen schlage ich zu Ehren des Gründers der vortefflichen zoologischen Station in Neapel für eine bisher unbekannte Clavide vor, welche im Golf von Neapel in grösserer Tief lebi. (Die Entstehung Der Sexualzellen Bei Den Hydromedusen, pg. 26)

I propose this name in honor of the founder of the excellent zoological station in Naples for a hitherto unknown clavid, which lives in greater depth in the Gulf of Naples.

The parent of Turritopsis dohrnii is Turritopsis mccrady, and the reason given for assigning this name is as follows:

The present sub-genus, for which I propose the name Turritopsis, is distinguished from Turris by the following peculiarities: The swimbell is remarkably thin, having no accumulation of transparent tissue above as in Oceania and Turris, but the whole appears to be a muscular mass covered by epithelium within and without. (pg. 56)

As far as the name Turris, that is attributed to René-Primevère Lesson. Although Lesson doesn't give his reason for naming it as such, I agree with Job Rozemond that it probably means tower. The description given by Lesson kind of sounds like a tower:

Ombrelle allongé, cylindrique et pyramidal, tronqué à la base que a huit tentacules, dilatés et échancrés à leur attache; muni de quatre lignes vasculaires, longitudinales. (Zoophytes, pg. 283)

Long umbrella, cylindrical and pyramidal, truncated at the base with eight tentacles, dilated and indented at their attachment; provided with four longitudinal vascular lines.

  • The sources you have collected answer the question perfectly, thank you very much for your time
    – user10176
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 14:11

Turritopsis is a compound word. Its parts are turris, tower, and ὄψις (opsis), appearance.

So the jellyfish is "something that looks like a tower" and indeed, if you look up images of it, there is something to say for this association.

As Rafael observed, Dohrnii must refer to Anton Dohrn.

  • Thank you! I've thought about this association but I assumed they wouldn't mix Latin and Greek like that
    – user10176
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 13:24
  • 1
    @Laravel, they do mix both languages a lot, more so since the XX century, as Latin and Greek become less known
    – Rafael
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 14:16

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