weekly blog--one for the ages
Inspired by an article in Boston University’s Bostonia Magazine…No matter how much we exercise or watch what we eat, our bodies still age unless you are lucky enough to be one of those seemingly ageless creatures that live on our planet. Consider the rougheye rockfish which can live more than 200 years without negligible signs of aging, or the ocean quahog which can live more than 500 years if it doesn’t succumb to predators, disease or the fryer.
Also, in the mix are minor workers of the ant Pheidole dentate. They can live up to 140 days in a laboratory without showing any signs of age-related decline before they die. In fact, these worker ants become more active as they age, and are better able to follow pheromone trails.
The idea of how these ants age has become the focus of research that may offer insights into human aging and Alzheimer’s. Although ant brains are unlike humans, researchers believe their social behavior may parallel something about our own social organization.
As for achieving true immortality, the Turritopsis Dohrnii jellyfish might come closest. It can transform itself from an adult back into a baby through a process known as ‘transdifferentiation’, in which one type of cell transforms into another. The jellyfish turns itself into a blob-like cyst, which then develops into a polyp colony; this is the first stage in jellyfish life. Through asexual reproduction, the resulting polyp colony can spawn hundreds of genetically identical jellyfish - near perfect copies of the original adult.