Biological Immortality Found in Nature

“Biological immortality” refers to the phenomenon which occurs with some organisms, where the chance of death due to old age is practically negligible. This can be observed in humans to a very small degree. The rate at which the chance of death increases as one ages actually decreases; that is, while the chance of death increases with each additional year, the change in that chance gets smaller and smaller over time. Biological immortality can also refer to an organism’s never-ending ability to continually replenish its cells, thereby repairing old or damaged body parts ad infinitum.

 

Oldest Living Clam

There are very few animals that exhibit biological immortality. Ocean quahog clams are known to live for hundreds of years and potentially longer. Those who reside within the Arctic circle only grow during the summer and so their metabolism is slowed down to such as degree that they age slowly. Ocean quahogs that live further South in warmer waters live for fractions of the lifespan of the arctic quahogs. Some only make it to 30!

 

 

Immortal JellyfishBut other animals, such as Turritopsis dohrnii, are effectively immortal in warm, tropical climates. T. dohrnii, called the immortal jellyfish, can theoretically never die. Once reaching adulthood, the immortal jellyfish is then able to reverse its own biological age and become a juvenile once more. However, it is difficult to test this theoretic possibility as most in the wild do die from predation, and testing the jellyfish’s immortality in a lab is obviously impossible.

 

Flat Worm on Sand

Small, genetically simple organisms which reproduce asexually are more likely to exhibit biological immortality than most others. Flatworms, for example, can continually repair themselves to complete health and therefore, even when injured, can continue living. Larger, more complex organisms such as the axolotl can regenerate any of their limbs perfectly.

 

 

In the past few decades, there has been an increase in interest, both scientifically and otherwise, in applying animals’ methods of immortality to humans. Research in the field of nanotechnology has put forth the possibility of a similar type of immortality as flatworms, allowing humans to constantly heal.

Let us know in the comments what you think of these amazing animals, and would you want to become immortal if you had the choice?

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