Did you know that there’s such a thing as biological immortality? That the mortality rate in some species does not increase with age?
Most plants and animals experience senescence, an age-related functional deterioration that also occurs on the micro scale. Cells progressively lose their ability to divide and grow properly.
There are some notable exceptions to this rule including hydras, a species of jellyfish, planarian flatworms and lobsters.
Lobsters achieve biological immortality by expressing telomerase through most of their tissue, even as adults. Telomerase is the enzyme that repairs the DNA sequences at the ends of the chromosomes so that when a cell divides it doesn’t lose any information. Human fetuses have telomerase but we don’t have it as adults. Lobsters always have it so they never age.
Despite their immortality, predation or an accident can end a lobster’s life. Accidents come to mind right now because …
On Tuesday November 25, 2014, just before 4:00pm, my husband was hit by a car while he crossed Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill — he was in a crosswalk! and the car had a stop sign! He has 9 broken ribs on his right side, a broken nose, bruises, a concussion and (had at first) a partially collapsed right lung. After six days in UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, at first in the ICU then in the trauma wing, he came home late yesterday for the long, painful, healing process. We are thankful his injuries were not worse.
In an accident, it doesn’t matter if you’re biologically immortal.
(illustration by Francis Hobart Herrick via Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)
p.s. You may be thinking, “How can she blog while this is going on?” Answer: Birds and nature are what keep me sane.
p.p.s. Thank you, Lydia, Wes, Brittny, Amanda and Erin for such excellent care while my husband was in the hospital.
UPDATE, MAY 2015: My husband has recovered from his injuries and is back to normal. His broken bones healed fast. We were amazed at how long it took his concussion to heal.