Biological immortality. Have you heard of it? Don’t worry very few of us have, let’s explore this topic! Biological immortality is achieved when a species is able to defy the laws of aging. But how could this be possible? When a species reaches the final stage of their life cycle, cells of said species are able to rejuvenate back to early life stages, allowing the species to remain youthful. The life cycle restarts which then means that the species can theoretically live forever. Biological immortality is a rare phenomenon in a very select few species. Rather than dying of old age, these species are more likely to die from disease, predatory attacks or a catastrophic change in their environment.
There are few species that are capable of this rare genetic miracle but take the Turritopsis dohrnii for example. Better known as the immortal jellyfish. The immortal jellyfish is arguably one of the most fascinating creatures in the entire ocean. This jellyfish is capable of living forever, in a way that no other creature could ever fathom. The immortal jellyfish will grow to its adult stage of life. Then once it has reproduced it reverts back to its juvenile stage and starts its life over again. Technically speaking, they can do this an infinite amount of times so there lies the possibility that they could live forever. The immortal jellyfish is the Benjamin Button of the marine world.
Lobsters are in the grey area of being biologically immortal. They do not die of aging. Instead they have an enzyme called telomerase which replaces their cells and will do so as long as they live. Their longevity is thanks to telomerase which is able to endlessly repair their telomere that is lost when their cells divide. Lobsters can defy the laws of aging however, we can’t quite place them under the category of being biological immortality. The older a lobster gets the bigger it grows. Eventually they will outgrow their shell. The problem arises when they’re at their oldest stage of life. The lobster will continue to grow and grow but their shell simply can’t keep up. Once they get to a certain size it takes too much energy for them to be able to survive. After a while they will die of either exhaustion, disease, predication or lastly a shell collapse. Will lobsters eventually evolve to resolve this problem? We can only hope so, and in time it is quite possible that they too will become completely biologically immortal.
In conclusion, biological immortality is a very fascinating subject. Much more research should go into biological immortality as it could offer revolutionary insight into human aging and cell behaviours.