June 10, 2023
  • Some animals are able to dwelling a really very long time, typically indefinitely, with others with the ability to regrow misplaced limbs.
  • This is because of a lot of mechanisms, together with gradual metabolisms, particular genes and a slowing of the getting older course of.
  • Scientists hope to analysis these animals to search out out the explanations they’re so long-lived, and possibly at some point apply these processes to our personal quick lifespans.

It is the one macabre reality of being human: at some point, all of us will die.

Naturally, this inevitability has led many people to dream of a lifetime of immortality, with the ability to stick round for tons of extra years.

Whereas we people are but to shed the shackles of our restricted lifespans, there are a lot of animals out within the pure world which can be seemingly breaking the legal guidelines of nature, defying the inevitability of dying.

These animals—which embrace axolotls, hydra, jellyfish and extra—and the mechanisms they use to elongate their lives might even at some point assist us to elongate our lives additional.

Mexican biologist Tatiana Sandoval-Guzman, a scientist who has lived in Dresden for six years, holds an axolotl in a glass tank in her laboratory on the Heart for Regenerative Therapies in Dresden, jap Germany, on November 17, 2015.
Robert Michael/AFP/Getty

“There are lots of organisms that both do not age or age so slowly that we have not detected it: rockfish, lobsters, sturgeons, the microscopic hydra, and a few sharks, amongst others,” John Ok. Davis, a professor of philosophy and bioethics at California State College, Fullerton, informed Newsweek. “There are colonies of coral which can be over 20,000 years previous. Micro organism do not age; they only divide and their offspring divide once more, indefinitely.”

People age as a result of a mixture of things, together with the gradual degradation of our chromosomes and the physique working out of stem cells, each of which contribute to the lagging of cell restore and the getting older of the physique and its programs—a course of known as senescence. Due to this fact, so as to supersede our quick human lifespans, we would wish to discover a means of stopping these points from arising.

“There may be at the moment no consensus amongst scientists who research getting older as to its causes,” David Gems, a professor of biogerontology and getting older at College Faculty London within the U.Ok., informed Newsweek. “One concept that has been round for a very long time is that getting older is attributable to accumulation of injury, and that non-aging organisms are excellent at repairing themselves.”

Greenland Shark

Some animals have a profound capability to stay exceptionally lengthy, such because the Greenland shark. These mild giants develop to between 8 and 23 ft lengthy and stay within the deep, chilly waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. They’ve the longest lifespan of all vertebrate species and may stay for a lot of tons of of years, with the oldest shark that has been discovered to this point being thought to have been born someplace between 1504 and 1744.

greenland shark
Inventory picture of a Greenland sharks. These sharks can stay for 400 years or extra.

“We studied their metabolic charges for the primary time a few years in the past and found that they’ve very gradual metabolisms, unsurprising given they’re giant cold-blooded fish dwelling within the freezing waters of the Arctic (metabolism slows with lowering physique temperature and rising physique mass),” Eric Ste-Marie, a marine ecologist and Greenland shark researcher on the College of Windsor in Canada, informed Newsweek. “Their gradual metabolism seemingly contributes to their longevity, however extra analysis is required.”

Nevertheless, the distinctive surroundings of Greenland sharks implies that their long-lived ways are unlikely to be of a lot use to people.

“Since we’re warm-blooded mammals and Greenland sharks are cold-blooded fish, it is unlikely that determining the mechanisms resulting in their longevity will assist us stay longer,” Ste-Marie mentioned.

Immortal Jellyfish

One other animal that seems to have the ability to stay indefinitely is the so-called “immortal jellyfish”, or Turritopsis dohrnii.

Immortal Animals 02
Scientist Shin Kubota exhibits a container with a number of immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii) he’s researching on throughout a photocall for ‘Spira Mirabiliss’ in the course of the 73rd Venice Movie Competition at on September 4, 2016, in Venice, Italy.
Ian Gavan/Getty

This tiny, 0.18 inch-jelly can seemingly stay without end: if it is injured bodily, the jellyfish is ready to flip again right into a polyp, the primary stage in its growth course of, that’s genetically similar to the grownup model. That is akin to frogs with the ability to instantly revert to being a tadpole.

The jellyfish can also be in a position to do that in instances of hunger, the American Museum of Pure Historical past explains, which means that except the jellyfish is eaten, it will possibly stay for an especially very long time. The method behind this Lazarus-like transformation known as transdifferentiation, which is when a specialised physique cell adjustments into one other kind of cell, an act that’s often not possible.

This course of is of specific curiosity to scientists, because it might be utilized to people, permitting us to interchange cells broken by illness.


One organism, known as tardigrades, additionally shows an odd type of near-immortality. These tiny 0.02-inch creatures, additionally known as water bears, are able to withstanding an enormous vary of maximum situations. They seem unperturbed by excessive temperatures, excessive pressures, excessive doses of radiation, dehydration, and hunger, and have even been discovered to outlive the void of area.

Immortal Animals 03
Zoologists and biologist Georg Mayer prepares tardigrade located in petri dishes in entrance of a picture of a 1000-fold magnification of the 0.2mm small animal featured on a display screen at a laboratory of the Institute of Biology in Leipzig, Germany, March 11, 2013. Tardigrades, also referred to as waterbears or moss piglets, survive momentary freeze, being cooked and stays in outer area.
Waltraud Grubitzsch/Image Alliance/Getty


“There is not actually such a factor as immortality within the pure world. What there’s, although, are organisms that lack an getting older course of, such because the freshwater polyp Hydra vulgaris. However they nonetheless die, simply not from getting older,” Gems mentioned

In accordance with a 2015 research printed within the journal Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, hydra include an enormous variety of stem cells, and over time, present little or no indicators of cell degradation or senescence, seemingly without end.

“Genes [may] trigger getting older to occur, for causes regarding the best way that evolution works,” Gems mentioned. “Particularly, evolution performs nasty purchase now, pay later video games to enhance efficiency (e.g. when it comes to reproductive success)—the place payback comes within the type of illnesses of getting older. By this view, non-aging organisms merely lack a genetically-determined getting older course of—maybe as a result of the situations for these nasty video games to be performed will not be there. This may imply that activating mechanisms from non-aging organisms in people to make us non-aging isn’t possible.”

hydra polyp
Inventory picture of Hydra vulgaris. These organisms appear to not age, and may regenerate misplaced appendages, together with their “heads”.

Hydra are additionally able to regrowing their heads in the event that they’re lopped off, similar to their mythological counterparts, merely regrowing the lacking appendage and carrying on.

Regenerative Skills

Regeneration of physique elements can also be seen in a lot of different species, together with some salamanders and axolotls, which may regrow lacking limbs after an damage. Some planarian flatworms could be lower in half and easily regrow their total physique from each sections, creating two new worms, NIH reported.

“The flexibility to regenerate is definitely quite common in animals and broadly distributed throughout the roughly 35 phyla (teams) of animals on earth. Many of those teams are marine invertebrates that may have unbelievable regenerative skills. A few of the extra well-known examples embrace sea anemones and flatworms, however there are a lot of others (sea stars, acorn worms, mollusks, and so forth),” Heather Marlow, an assistant professor of organismal biology and anatomy on the College of Chicago, informed Newsweek.

They do that by producing new tissues, rising new cells like a fetus within the womb.

“They’ll do that by dedifferentiating present cells and signaling to them to divide and differentiate into new tissues,” Marlow mentioned. “They’ll additionally do it by activating an present resident inhabitants of stem cells that reply to indicators of damage and divide to type the misplaced tissues. Whereas it is unlikely that sea anemone or flatworm stem cells might be in contrast one on one to a human stem cell, the fundamental ideas of how these stem cell populations are maintained, how they’re activated and the genes they use to turn into the regenerated constructions are vital to review.”

axolotl salamander
Inventory picture of an axolotl. These salamanders can regenerate misplaced limbs.


Why and the way salamanders can regrow limbs is a matter of nice curiosity to the regenerative biology neighborhood.

“Some assume they might carry distinctive—salamander-specific genes, (i.e: solely current within the genomes of salamanders), which assist promote regeneration,” Igor Schneider, an assistant professor of limb regeneration at Louisiana State College, informed Newsweek. “Others, comparable to myself, assume that they use genes that all of us have, however whereas they orchestrate a correct gene expression response that leads to regeneration, we fail to take action.”

He continued: “Whereas there might be a correlation between longevity and regenerative capability, particularly for organisms able to complete physique regeneration, longevity and physique half regeneration are two impartial phenomena [that] may evolve individually. It implies that some species can stay lengthy however fail to regenerate their physique appendages (comparable to some sharks that may stay for hundreds of years however can’t regenerate their fins if bitten). Conversely, others can readily regrow fins however are very short-lived.”

There may be a considerable amount of analysis going into making use of limb-regrowing skills to people, as this might present amputees with life-changing choices sooner or later.

amputated leg
Inventory picture of a below-knee amputation affected person sitting on wheelchair. Scientists are engaged on regeneration of human limbs.

“Scientists are engaged on many fronts to find how you can regrow a human limb,” Schneider mentioned. “One promising avenue of analysis is the identification of genes that code for proteins vital to kickstart regeneration in salamanders, after which the manufacturing of lotions or wearable biomaterials that include these proteins or medicine that activate signaling pathways of regeneration. This strategy was used to some success for activating some regenerative progress in severed legs of frogs,” in accordance with analysis printed in Science Advances’ January 2022 version.

“I consider the sphere will finally succeed. Whether or not future therapies for human limb loss contain subtle brain-machine built-in prosthetics or medication that promote regrowth of limbs (or each), is anybody’s guess,” he mentioned.

With such a spread of ways used throughout animals to out survive we do, it might be at some point attainable to use them to our personal lifespans. Nevertheless, because of the big variations between our our bodies and the our bodies of those immortal animals, that is more likely to be very troublesome, and never yield fairly the identical diploma of “immortality”, fairly, simply helps to deal with some situations.

“My very own view is that the longest we might ever get utilizing non-genetic therapies (e.g. medicine) over the subsequent century or so isn’t greater than 5-10 years greater than we at the moment stay (which might nonetheless be a really factor… a better profit than one would get from utterly eradicating most cancers, for example),” Schneider mentioned. “To stay for much longer would require very in depth and really complicated germline genetic modification. This would possibly at some point be attainable (politically, ethically in addition to scientifically)—many centuries sooner or later (if not millennia) I’d guess, in a a lot better world than our current one.”

Even when we might someway work out how you can stay for much longer, it would not cease us from dying, nonetheless.

“The factor to recollect about human life extension is that it consists of slowing or halting getting older, and doesn’t make us invulnerable to accident, damage, or illness,” Davis mentioned. “Prolonged life isn’t immortality. That mentioned, if we might stop to age fully, we might stay a lot as we do now, however the odds of dying wouldn’t enhance as we grow old (as they do after we age).

“In the end you’ll die of one thing. Even should you do not age you would possibly get hit by a bus this afternoon, or killed by a illness 10,000 years from now. It is only a matter of odds.”

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