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10/31/2014 3:31:54 PM

Scientists: Lobsters can live forever

Can you ever eat a lobster again after reading this news? It turns out that our clawed friends have self-repairing DNA, which means they would essentially live forever if it weren't for being caught and eaten, or dying from injury or disease.

Lobsters never age, they just grow. Their bodies don’t become frailer in time, they don’t need more and more medicine to keep their hearts going and they don’t even lose their sexual potency. In fact, the older a lobster, the more fertile it becomes.

The secret is an enzyme by the name of telomerase.

Telomerase affects telomeres, which are found on the end of all chromosomes and protect these chromosomes from deterioration. However, each time a cell divides, its telomeres are shortened. Eventually, the telomeres become too short to protect the chromosomes and cells begin to lose their ability to divide (known as the Hayflick Limit).

Telomerase acts as a sort of add-on, restoring length to telomeres and thus enabling them to continue protecting the cell. In most animals (including humans), telomerase production rapidly declines with age  hence, the whole dying part.

Lobsters, however, don’t stop producing telomerase; in fact, while most animals show higher levels of telomerase in certain areas of their bodies, lobsters have the enzyme in abundance throughout their body. Couple that with the fact that lobsters shed and recreate their exoskeletons, and there’s nothing to stop a lobster from growing indefinitely.

Except for things eating them, which tends to happen a lot. In fact, after a certain point, the larger a lobster grows the harder it is for the creature to stay alive, since the places it hides from predators become increasingly inaccessible the bigger the lobster gets.



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Scientists: Lobsters can live foreverScientists: Lobsters can live forever

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