Four Animals With Eternal Youth (almost)
Getting a pet puppy or kitten is a bit like having a terminally ill child; you know you’re going to outlive it. It’s grim, but it’s true. The concept of an immortal animal seems too fantastic, too unbelievably wonderful to be true (unless that immortal animal is an oceanic white tip shark circling you). However, arguments are actually sprouting up in the scientific community about lack of senescence in certain species…meaning that these particular species don’t seem to deteriorate as they age or do so at such a slow rate as to not really matter that much. Unfortunately, pomeranians, French bulldogs, pugs, and cats are not among these species. Sorry to get your hopes up. However, console yourself with this science fiction disaster waiting to happen: if we can study these creatures, we might be able to slow down our own ageing. Here are a few of those species whose anti-ageing secrets keep them forever young and beautiful:
It’s not much of a secret that tortoises seem to live forever. There are accounts of families adopting giant tortoises as pets that grow old with and even outlive members of the family. Currently, it is believed that the oldest living terrestrial animal on earth is Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise. If only they’d have known how special he’d be, they may have thought a bit harder on naming him. If you’re going to be a giant tortoise spitting in death’s face, you need a name a little more exotic than Jonathan. But before Jonathan, the world had Adwaita, an Aldabra giant tortoise rumored to be 250-years-old when he died in2006. Adwaita means “unique” whereas Jonathan doesn’t.
While scientists have been doing research on ageing in lobsters, they’ve had some difficulty. Currently, it’s believed the average lobster lives to about age 70, which may seem like only a moderately big deal. However, research indicates that lobsters don’t seem to experience senescence, rather they may be even more fertile with age. Cougar culture may have blinded us to the extraordinariness of such a discovery, but lobsters could possibly teach us a lot about anti-ageing techniques. It’s believed that the lobsters are equipped with an enzyme that fixes DNA, preserving their youth and virility. Here’s where things take a turn for the brutal. Lobsters continue to grow, expending massive amounts of energy moulting to create a new shell and many lobsters succumb to death through exhaustion in one last moulting. Suddenly, dying in your sleep from old age doesn’t seem so bad.
First the good news: as I alluded to at the beginning of this article, sharks are not immortal. The bad news is that crocodiles might be. All joking aside, crocodiles are lovely, beautiful gifts of nature that can and will snap your neck in a species-patented death roll if given a fraction of a chance. But that’s really our fault for being so delicious. Actually, crocodiles have a life expectancy that’s comparable to humans but it’s insanely difficult for scientists and zoologists to determine the age of a crocodile. The current method involves measuring rings in bone and teeth which sounds kind of sucky for the crocodile. However, it appears that crocodiles just keep growing larger up until the day they die, maintaining physical strength, agility, and virility while you just get softer and more delicious.
Of all of the animals on this list, the aquatic hydra is the only to be theorized as biologically immortal. Test results and observations show that hydras have merged regenerative abilities with a lack of senescence to actually achieve immortality. Before you start rioting in the face of the inevitable end of days, the hydra we are referring to here is not the mythical dragon with several heads or the villainous organization from Marvel comics but rather a creature that can only get in your face through the other end of a microscope.
These are just a few examples of creatures that put themselves above the laws of time. There are reports of biologically immortal jellyfish, endlessly regenerating flatworms, and koi fish that live over 200 years. Humans harnessing that power for themselves (and, yes, their pets) is still a long way off if it ever happens at all. In the meantime, you can ease your separation anxieties by investing in a giant tortoise that can then look forward to you, your children, and your grandchildren riding its back for the next 250 years.