We all die. That’s the only certainty.
What’s puzzling is that we should die so young, on average, compared to other species.
Ageing results from the breakdown of the cell’s ability to reproduce correctly, leading to cellular senescence and eventual death.
But not every living creature faces that problem.
Microscopic Endoliths, with their ultra-slow metabolism, live for more than 10,000 years. They spend most of their life repairing DNA damage, living in rocks and consuming the minerals found there.
The oldest verified land based animal was a tortoise named Tu’i Malila who died at 188. Tu’i Malila was hatched around 1777 and died in 1965 from natural causes.
Radiocarbon dating shows that a female Greenland shark died aged about 400.
Sponges such as Xestrospongia live for more than 2,300 years.
Many plants live for thousands of years by forming interconnected root systems known as colonies.
One such, Pando, also called the Trembling Giant, is a quivering aspen in Utah, and covers 106 acres and has more than 40,000 stems. There are suggestions that Pando is almost one million years old.
The oldest tree in Europe is the Llangernyw Yew found in Wales, which may be 5,000 years old.
But there is only one immortal being, and that’s Turritopsis dohrnii, a small jellyfish found in the Mediterranean and around Japan.
When it becomes sick or close to death, it reverts back to a polyp, which buds new jellyfish.
Picture source: Flickr