Tortoises & 13 Other Almost Immortal Organisms

10 months ago
From the tough and durable tortoise… to jellyfish that can live their lives over and over … here are 14 organisms that are almost immortal.

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#8 Flatworms
They are more officially called planarian worms … although most of us might refer to them as creepy-crawlies. But these soft-bodied invertebrates that thrive in ponds and lakes might one day offer a clue to solving the mystery of immortality. Many researchers feel these animals have the potential to essentially live forever. That’s due to their remarkable regenerative abilities. In experiments conducted at Nottingham University in the UK, scientists cut one worm into several pieces. Then, each section regenerated into a completely new animal. During the course of the 4-year experiment, a colony of around 20,000 flatworms was produced from the original single specimen. Amazingly, the bodies and organs of the replicants did not appear to age. Regardless of how the worm was split (that is, horizontally or vertically), it still regenerates into a pair of living and distinct worms. From those findings, experts extrapolated that barring a single, undivided worm suffered an infection or illness, it might possibly live … forever!

#7 Giant Tortoises
It’s common knowledge that these reptiles can reach ripe old ages. Some of the better known examples include Adwaita (ad-WIE-tah), the male Aldabra giant tortoise who was said to be around 250 years when he died in 2006 at a zoo in India. These days, the oldest known living terrestrial animal is Jonathan … a Seychelles giant tortoise on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. He’s thought to have been hatched in 1832 … making him around 186 years old now. What accounts for the reptiles impressive longevity? Experts say that when the animals die, it’s not from the effects of old age. The internal organs of a 100-year old tortoise can be identical to those of a teenage counterpart. Their organs tend not to break down because they can essentially turn their heart on and off at will, meaning it doesn’t have to beat constantly. Along with their slow metabolism and ability to survive without food or water for extended periods of time, many scientists consider turtles to be biologically immortal.

#6 Water Bears (Tardigrades)
These creatures are less than 1 millimeter long … but many consider Tardigrades to be the toughest critters on the planet. Also called water bears due to their unusual appearance, the 8-legged micro-animals have the ability to survive in impossible conditions. That includes exposure to extreme heat and cold … extreme radiation, intense pressure, poison, starvation, dehydration, and even the vacuum of outer space. They’ve been frozen, and then brought back to life after some 30 years. They’re found all over the planet, from the deepest oceans, to the highest mountains, and in all types of habitats.

#5 Radiation-Proof Bacterium
‘Deinococcus radiodurans’ wouldn’t make the greatest name for a superhero … but it is the name of a bacterium that has some super-powers. Namely, it is incredibly resistant to radiation … and can survive 1.5 million rads of gamma radiation … which is about 3,000 times the amount that would kill a human (or turn them into the Hulk). Experts say this organism has some qualities reminiscent of the Tardigrade … they can survive extreme cold, vacuum, acid, the effects of dehydration. To top it off, their DNA possesses such a rapid repair rate, that these creatures can actually die, and then come back to life. All of which has led the Guinness folks to cite this as the world’s toughest bacterium. No argument here.

Tortoises & 13 Other Almost Immortal Organisms

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