Each living organism has come to Earth with an expiration date. Or rather, this is what happens to most species on the planet, except for a particular group of organisms that have what science calls despicable aging.
It means the cells of some lucky beings remain in a cycle of constant renewal without suffering the natural decline that we humans, for example, experience.
Sometimes, to end the existence of these animals, it becomes necessary to appeal to “killed death” since they are (biologically, at least) immortal.
Here is the list of such animals and living organisms which have survived numerous eras and witnessed numerous civilizations.
Table of Contents
1. Turritopsis Dohrnii- Biologically Immortal Jellyfish
|Scientific Name||Turritopsis dohrnii|
|Common Name||Immortal Jellyfish|
It is one of the fascinating cases in terms of longevity. The Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish is considered by science to be the only living being capable of being immortal.
The tiny jellyfish has a dome diameter of only 4.5 mm. Scientists first discovered Turritopsis dohrnii in 1883. It originated in the Caribbean Sea, but it spread literally to the entire globe long ago.
These tiny creatures, unlike most jellyfish, do not die after participating in the reproductive cycle; that is, after mating, Turritopsis dohrnii returns to the juvenile stage.
This discovery was made by the Italian scientist Fernando Boero. He planted this species of jellyfish in an aquarium.
Soon he had to postpone this study, and when he returned, the water in the aquarium had long since dried up. But to his surprise, the jellyfish did not die but turned into larvae.
Boero refilled the vessel with water. After some time, the larvae turned into polyps, from which, after some time, new jellyfish budded.
So it turned out that the jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii is an immortal animal. This miracle of nature has learned to control its genes and can “reverse,” returning to its initial stage of development and starting life anew.
The eternal jellyfish has a domed umbrella shape; along the edges, there is a corolla of tentacles. Interestingly, the number of tentacles increases with age. A new jellyfish has about eight tentacles, while a mature one can have ninety pieces.
However, like all other living things, various dangers in the jellyfish’s natural environment could lead to its death. In the event of external interference, this creature cannot protect itself against death.
Even if Turritopsis dohrnii does not age and die naturally, it can be destroyed by various other potential hazards and causes that it may be exposed to in the environment in which it lives.
2. Freshwater Hydra- Immortal like Jellyfish
|Scientific Name||Hydra Vulgaris|
|Proved they are Immortal||1997|
Hydra is a class of small invertebrates with a soft body like a jellyfish. Like Turritopsis dohrnii, hydras can live forever.
Many scientists and researchers put forward the hypothesis of the theoretical immortality of the hydra in the 19th century. In 1997, it was proven by scientist Daniel Martinez.
His experiment, which lasted about four years, showed no mortality among the three groups of hydras due to aging. The immortality of hydras was directly associated with their high regenerative capacity.
The freshwater hydra is a predatory polyp living in water bodies about two centimeters in size. Indeed, under optimal conditions, the hydra lives indefinitely, without changing in any way, without aging.
In 2012, German scientists found that the freshwater hydra polyp is immortal due to the presence of a unique gene, which has already been nicknamed the “immortality gene.”
German researchers from the Christian Albrecht University believed that the secret to the longevity of the little inhabitants of the river bottom lies in the FoxO gene.
This gene, associated with the regulation of the aging process, is also found in humans, so the scientific research of scientists aroused great interest.
In the course of experiments on hydras, geneticists concluded that the FoxO gene maintains stem cells in an active state, due to which body tissues are constantly updated.
Scientists suggested that similar processes occur in the human body. FoxO is most active in people over a hundred years old, so experts believe that the gene plays a vital role in the aging process in hydras and humans.
At the moment, testing this hypothesis in humans is impossible, as this would require genetic manipulations that are hazardous to health.
3. Bacteria Strain- Capable to revive after 250 million years
|Common Name||Bacillus Strain|
|Age||250 million years|
|Still Alive||Revived from Dormancy|
In the mid-1990s, several scientists reported that they had revived the bacteria they had extracted from bees immured in amber, whose age is about 30 million years.
And in 2000, American scientists revived 250-million-year-old bacteria from a state of dormancy. The organisms thus come from a time long before T. rex roamed the forests.
The resurgence of “dormant” germs is not uncommon. Yeast cells could still produce good beer after 166 years, and scientists have found bacteria in the stones of a 2,400-year-old Egyptian temple.
According to a Nature article published on October 19, 2000, the American microbiologist Russel Vreeland from West Chester University searched the rock strata of the Salado Formation in New Mexico at a depth of 569 meters for signs of life.
He and his colleagues found what they were looking for in a tiny inclusion of a salt crystal about the size of a plum.
When isolating the dormant germ, the scientists had to be extremely careful not to contaminate their sample with today’s bacteria.
They sterilized the crystal with concentrated caustic soda and hydrochloric acid, reducing the probability of contamination to less than one hundred millionth. Finally, they were able to stimulate the isolated bacterium to grow again.
4. Neptune Grass- Sea Grass living up to 200,000 years
|Scientific Name||Posidonia oceanica|
|Common Name||Neptune Grass|
Neptune grass is a seawater plant species from the Neptune grass family Posidoniaceae native to the Mediterranean Sea. The greenish to yellowish perennials of Neptune Grass grows to 30 to 120 cm.
They form veritable seagrass meadows. Neptune grass occurs in shallow water at 40 meters, rarely up to 60 meters.
The Spanish Oceanologists discovered the species and studied its DNA. They found that these plant species reproduce through cloning and grow very slowly but form huge connected beds of seagrass underwater.
The plant can also live for thousands of years and still seems well adapted to changing environmental conditions.
According to scientists, the largest genetically identical Neptune grass meadow stretches over more than 15 kilometers off the Balearic island of Formentera.
The DNA samples were able to show that the plants in this area had little or no genetic differences. So this fact stands to reason that it is the same plant.
Based on the annual growth rate of the seagrass, scientists estimated that the plant is around 80,000 to 200,000 years old. It must have formed many tens of thousands of clones during this time.
The researchers were amazed that no mutations were detectable in the genetic samples, even from distant regions.
Although the plant’s genes remain (almost) the same from generation to generation, the Neptune grass can adapt to the coaxing environmental conditions due to the high plasticity of its appearance.
The plant can adjust its characteristics to the different environmental influences in the microhabitats and survive changing environmental and climatic conditions.
Although the proud age of Neptune grass suggests a robust species, the aquatic plant seems threatened by climate change. Temperatures in the Mediterranean are rising three times faster than in other seas.
The plant has never experienced such a rapid change. In addition, the increasing shipping traffic in the Mediterranean is displacing the Neptune grass more and more.
5. Pando- A group of Aspen trees living up to 80,000 years
|Scientific Name||Populus tremuloides|
|Common Name||Trembling Giant|
Found in Utah, the Pando organism is a 43-hectare plantation of shaking aspen clones.
Although it resembles a forest of separate trees with striking white bark and small leaves that hover in the slightest breeze, Pando (Latin for “I spread”) is 47,000 genetically similar stems that spring from an interconnected root network.
This single genetic tree weighs about 6 million tons. By mass, it is the largest and heaviest single organism on Earth.
It is believed that it had to grow in the best of conditions, which are often fires, and in climatic conditions that followed the pattern of a humid to semi-arid environment.
On the one hand, the fire prevented the conifers, their main competitor, from expanding; and on the other hand, the change from frequent rains to drought prevented their seeds from reaching a good harbor and the young poplars from surviving.
Its root system is 80 thousand years old; thus, it can boast of being the oldest in the world.
The Pando tree can reach a height of up to 25 meters with a trunk between 20 to 140 centimeters in diameter. The leaves are almost rounded, 4-8 cm in diameter, and green in color, except in autumn when they turn yellow.
It is a plant that withstands high temperatures very well and severe frosts. In addition, it tolerates pruning; therefore, it is often used as a high hedge.
The US National Forest Service has protected Pando and is not threatened by logging, but it is endangered due to several other factors.
However, the biggest threat to Pando is by deer and elk; their overgrazing is causing these miraculous species to decline in number.
Since the woodland is under protection, deer and elk tend to congregate in Pando as they are not threatened to be hunted there.
6. King Clone Creosote bush- a Shrub that can live up to 11,700 years
|Scientific Name||Larrea tridentata|
|Common Name||Creosote bush|
|Size||22 by 8 m|
King Clone is considered the oldest creosote ring in the Mojave Desert. In 1970, a shrub whose root system is almost eternal was discovered in the Mojave Desert by Frank Vasek.
Even though its branches live only a couple of hundred years, the organism’s age reaches 11,700 years.
The creosote bush, also known as Larrea tridentata, is a medium-sized perennial shrub. The leaves are small, pointed, and green with a waxy coating.
These leaves have adjusted to conserve water and survive high temperatures. The creosote bush aggressively competes with other plants for soil water and grows well in drought conditions.
Not content with collecting all the moisture in the ground, the creosote bush has adopted another curious method of fighting for living space. The poisonous substance secreted by its roots poisons the surrounding soil, destroying neighboring plants.
Creosote bush always faces the southeast. Its branches and leaves grow in a way that means absorbing as much morning sunlight as possible.
As the daytime increases and the air drier, it closes its stomata and stops its photosynthesis.
7. Methuselah Spiny Pine- Coniferous tree that lived up to 4845 years
|Scientific Name||Pinus longaeva|
|Species||Great Basin bristlecone pine|
|Location||Inyo County, California, USA|
The spiny pine is the contemporary of many of the oldest civilizations, which has witnessed more than one change of era. This coniferous tree does not have a particularly presentable appearance, and its branches bend at ridiculous angles.
It does not play a particularly significant role, but it can live for thousands of years for some reason. So, the oldest of the trees of this species was called Methuselah; its age is 4845 years.
It was found in California, in the Inyo National Forest. When studying it in 1957, experts accurately determined that it sprouted in 2832 BC, and therefore, its age at that time was 4789 years.
The tree is named Methuselah after one of the biblical characters who lived for 969 years. This pine is considered the oldest individual (non-cloned) living organism on our planet.
Long-lived pines grow at altitudes of 2,000 meters and above and are very hardy, highly hardy trees that withstand the harsh climate, debris, winter storms, and cold.
The exact location of the Old Trees in the White Mountains is secret to protect them from tourists.
8. Deep Sea Black Coral- Marine Creature that lived for 4200 years
|Scientific Name||Leiopathes glaberrima|
|Common Name||Black Coral|
According to the American Scientists Brendan Roark and his colleagues from Stanford University in California, deep-sea corals can live over 4200 years. It means that they have the longest life expectancy of all skeletal marine life.
Their trick: they grow extremely slowly. The corals of the genus Leiopathes create an average of 13 micrometers per year, which is less than the dimension of a speck of dust.
The scientists used submersibles to collect living pieces of Leiopathes at a depth of 400 to 500 meters off Hawaii. This genus belongs to the black corals and grows in colonies of tens of thousands of tiny individual organisms, so-called polyps.
All individuals are connected to each other and thus form a single large, living unit, which is reminiscent of a tree in its structure and can be several meters tall.
Coral colonies are known for their biodiversity. They are particularly threatened by trawling, which levels entire reefs to the seabed within a short period.
But harvesting for the jewelry industry has also left its mark in many places. In addition, for some years now, there has been the influence of climate change, which will probably change the pH value of the seas in the long term and thus worsen the living conditions for the corals.
9. Honey agaric- Mushroom that lived for 2000 years
|Scientific Name||Armillaria mellea|
|Common Name||Honey Mushroom|
Honey agaric is possibly the largest and one of the longest living organisms in terms of size, biomass, and longevity.
Mushrooms of this species are distributed throughout the globe, but the largest individual is found in the Malheur Forest in Oregon (USA). Its size is 9.6 square kilometers!
Interestingly, the fungus is only visible above the soil surface for several weeks of the year when it is germinating. The fruiting body (mushrooms familiar to us in appearance) is only the tip of a giant organism.
Most of its mass is underground in an extensive network of mycelium, which is the nutritional structure of the fungus. This mycelium covers most of the forest.
The researchers compared the samples in the laboratory and performed DNA analysis. As a result, biologists have concluded that the fungi growing in this region are parts of the same organism.
They all have identical genetic information and were formed from the same spore many years ago. According to scientists, the mushroom began to grow 2000-8000 years ago. Thus, it is one of the oldest living organisms on Earth.
The fungus is genetically stable, resulting from a slow cell division rate or exact DNA repair mechanisms. In addition, the relatively stable environment may have contributed to the spread of honey agaric in North America.
Honey agaric is a parasitic fungus; it grows under the bark of its host tree, feeding on it. Over time, the host tree dies from lack of nutrients and dehydration. But the “mushroom attack” does not end there.
The honey agaric will also feed on the roots, preventing them from sprouting again. This disease, called root rot, has caused the death of many trees in the Malheur National Forest.
10. Ming Arctica Islandica – Mollusk that lived for 507 years
|Scientific Name||Arctica islandica|
|Still Alive||No (killed in 2013)|
|Size||87 mm × 73 mm|
Ming, an Arctica islandica, is the name of a type of mollusk that, although it looks like quite ordinary shells, receives an honorary prize for longevity among single organisms that do not create colonies.
A group of scientists from Bangor University announced that it inadvertently killed the creature while trying to open its shell to determine how old it was back in 2013.
Ming was born in 1499; this means that it sailed the ocean before Henry VIII ascended the English throne. It received its nickname in honor of the Chinese Ming Dynasty, which ruled the Celestial Empire when the clam was still young.
The scientists caught it off the coast of Iceland in 2006. Then scientists considered that the marine life was 405 years old, but the improvement of age determination technologies forced them to re-analyze, during which the poor fellow died.
However, biologists say that among the relatives of Ming, there may be mollusks older than him.
It lives at the bottom of the northern region of the Atlantic Ocean, and its age is stamped on its shell. According to the researchers, each extra line on the outside of the shell means one year of life.
The justification for such a long life is due to the low rates of its enormous antioxidation capacity, which fights the aging process.
Contrary to what happens with other animals, the levels of antioxidant defense of A. islandica do not decrease after sexual maturity; they stabilize, keeping the cells intact for many years.
To live without aging, and even better forever, is the dream of all living things. Therefore, today scientists are so meticulously studying the various phenomena of longevity. Indeed, immortality contradicts the laws of life development.
After all, each of the next generations of living beings acquires new qualities and properties that help it survive in fierce competition for a place under the sun.
And the immortal organism does not develop; it remains in its original form. Therefore it is a weak link in evolution. It has a high probability of dying from enemies and constantly improving diseases.
(Last Updated on June 9, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)