Turtles Can Live Forever

from slog.thestranger.com
from slog.thestranger.com

Turtles Don't Get Old

This is rather old news, but I am very surprised at the amount of people unaware of the fact that turtles don't age. What is aging? Aging is defined as the deterioration of one's organs. As one gets older, his/her heart, kidney, lungs, liver, etc. begin to deteriorate until they no longer work. Turtles, unlike humans, do not experience this deterioration. An article from the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/12/science/12turt.html, tells us that "turtles don't really die of old age...In fact, if turtles didn’t get eaten, crushed by an automobile or fall prey to a disease, they might just live indefinitely." This is shocking. Never before have we found an animal that shares this capibility of indefinite living. With this information, scientists could look foor the specific gene(s) that grant turtles this amazing ability. They could then use that information to try to give humans the same ability.

Don't Believe Me?

If you are still skeptical, feel free to look at that New York Times article which states the following: "Dr. Christopher J. Raxworthy, the associate curator of herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History, says the liver, lungs and kidneys of a centenarian turtle are virtually indistinguishable from those of its teenage counterpart, a Ponce de Leonic quality that has inspired investigators to begin examining the turtle genome for novel longevity genes." Plus, "Last March, a giant tortoise named Adwaita said to be as old as 250 years died in a Calcutta zoo." Is this amazing or what? Imagine if you could live for an astonishing 250 years. Even with all this information, though, people are still killing turtles all over the world. In many Asian countries, thousands of turtles are killed every single day. This is very sad knowing that such a scientifically valuable animal is dying only to become somebody's meal or a decoration on a wall. We need to preserve these animals that could help us advance dramatically. Just remember, every time you shorten a turtle's life, you could be doing the same to your own.

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Comments 13 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Yes, I have heard this too, Marshall. It's so fascinating to have heard this, back about 8 years ago from my English professor. Were it not for pollution and human intervention all together, there is a plethora of information supporting this paradox.

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Turtles are being extinguished not only because they might be someone's meal or decoration on a wall, but because they get in the way of progress. For a chilling example of how turtle nesting grounds are being destroyed in the name of progress, see this Hub...


There is much to be lost...I had no idea about the life expectancy of turtles. Perhaps the mythical fountain of youth is to be found in this humble creature. Thanks for the great info and resources.

marshall92 profile image

marshall92 7 years ago Author

dohn121: I agree, it is very fascinating. Too bad human intervention so often kills these poor creatures.

Sally's Trove: Thanks for your comment. I checked out the hub you mentioned. The information provided is very sad. As if making cars is more valuable than a turtle's life. I agree, "there is much to be lost." There is also much to be gained if we stop killing turtles.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

If scientists discover how to use this gene in humans, won't we all end up looking like Don Rickles?

marshall92 profile image

marshall92 7 years ago Author

Rochelle Frank: Haha, that's a funny thought. I certainly hope not.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

That is a beautiful photo of a turtle... So much detail and functionality in something so small!

sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago

Thank you for an interesting and informative Hub. I knew turtles had long lifespans but your inputs are worth knowing.

marshall92 profile image

marshall92 7 years ago Author

glassvisage: I agree. I chose the picture mostly to show the similarities between older and younger turtles. Imagine that turtle 1000 times bigger. It would look the same but older.

sabu singh: Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

phrodie 6 years ago

How do you tell the difference between a male and female tortoises?

Amanda  6 years ago

I love that turtle.It is so cute!Wonderful info to.

Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California'

What a great hub - I knew turtles were long lived, but had no idea they didn't 'age'. I'm not sure I could go through life looking like Don Rickles though LOL!

JJ 4 years ago

Why don't their bodies age? I'd really like to find out, and maybe do a school report on it.

Bj 3 years ago


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