Creatures that live forever. These animals are known to be immortal & might solve some scientific questions about the aging of humans.
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Voiceover by Carl Mason: [email protected]
Number 6 Ocean Quahog
This edible clam species is native to the North Atlantic Ocean and renowned for its longevity. After about 25 years, a period in which the clam grows and reaches maturity, scientists have found that its antioxidant enzymes maintained stable level for more than 150 years. At the time, the researchers weren’t aware of the clam’s age, which carbon dating would later place at 507 years old. The discovery received a great deal of media attention and journalists from the Sunday Times dubbed the clam Ming. The researchers later named it Hafrun, which roughly translates as ‘mystery of the ocean’. There’s no way to tell how long the clam would have lived for if undisturbed from its natural habitat. Some have suggested that Ming might have been a rare example of biological immortality.
Number 5 Nematodes
Nematodes are the roundworms which account for about 80 per cent of all individual animals on our planet. They’re present in every part of the Earth’s lithosphere, including desserts, mountains and oceanic trenches. They’re also found as parasites in the bodies of many vertebrates, including, in some cases, humans. According to nematologist Nathan Cobb ‘If all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we should find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers and oceans represented by a film of nematodes’. In July 2018, Russian scientists collaborated with researchers from Princeton University, to analyze around 300 prehistoric worms recovered from Russia’s Sakha Republic, above the Arctic Circle. The nematodes were found in permafrost and two of them began to move and eat after being thawed. One was believed to be about 32,000 years old, the other approximately 41,700 years old. This makes them the oldest living multicellular animals on Earth.
Number 4 Lobsters
Research suggests that lobsters don’t stop growing, weaken or lose fertility with age. They grow through a process called ‘moulting’. This process repeats itself with greater frequency when the lobster is young and then once every two or three years after it passes a certain age. Lobsters also retain their regenerative abilities, which enable them to regrow lost limbs, into their advanced adulthood. It’s theorized that the reason these blue-blooded creatures are often cited in the discussion of biological immortality has to do with an enzyme called ‘telomerase’. The chromosomes in animal cells have long repetitive sequences of DNA at their tips, which are called telomeres. As the cell divides and the chromosome is replicated, the telomeres become shorter, in turn reducing lifespan.
Number 3 Planarian Flatworms
These creatures are common to many parts of the world, living in both saltwater and freshwater rivers and ponds. This is possible due to adult stem cells called neoblasts, which account for 20 per cent or more of the total cells in the planarian flatworm. They reproduce rapidly to replace older cells. The existing tissue is remodeled to restore the proportion and symmetry of the new worm that forms from a severed piece. In the 1950s two American biologists carried out memory experiments on flatworms. These experiments revealed that there’s a chemical basis for memory, which the researchers dubbed memory RNA. The working theory was that since ribonucleic acid encodes information, it might also be used to record stimuli in neurons.
Number 2 Hydra
The Hydra is a type of fresh-water organism, native to tropical and temperate regions. These small creatures, which only grow to about 0.39 inches in length, are among some of the most fascinating animals on Earth, for a number of reasons. Their bodies consist of a simple adhesive foot, called the basal disc and, at the free end, a mouth part surrounded by one to twelve tentacles. Each of these tentacles is coated in specialized cells with structures called nematocysts, which look like minuscule lightbulbs.
Number 1 Leopard Lungfish
Leopard Lungfish, also known as marbled lungfish, are found in swamps, floodplains and river deltas throughout Africa. Their bodies can grow to nearly 7ft in length, with long tails that taper at the end. Leopard lungfish also have very long and thin pectoral and pelvic fins, which are used to glide through the water. They draw their common name from the dark slate gray splotches that cover their fins and bodies, creating a marble or leopard-like pattern. These remarkable creatures have the largest known genome of any vertebrate.