shadow the coolest

dreadlord-mr-son replied to your post “Friendly reminder that de-aging is an actual canonical thing real…”

Er… the thing about lobsters not aging is a myth. They can totally die of old age.

No, okay, so this is actually a really neat subject!  Thank you for the excuse to babble.

To clarify, I am basing this off of discussions with a labmate/colleague who is doing his postdoctoral research on aging, with arthropods as a study system.  (He’s not working on lobsters, though.  Although that would be awesome.)

So lobsters are certainly not immortal.  They have a general lifespan, estimated at about 100 years or so.  Lobsters die! But, what lobsters don’t do, precisely is age.  Or, more specifically, they have what’s called ‘negligible senescence’, where senescence means deterioration with age.  

Organisms with negligible senescence perform neither reproductively nor functionally worse as they get older, and, in the case of lobsters are actually more fit the older they get.  This is because they get BIGGER, and bigger lobsters are less likely to get eaten, etc.  

A 100 year old lobster is a super-stud.

However, as in all things, there are trade-offs.  See, as an arthropod, you have to shed your skin to grow.  The bigger you are, the more energetically costly it is to molt.  And eventually, you’re going to try to molt, and the process is going to be so draining you’re going die of exhaustion before you finish.

So, yeah.  Lobsters don’t die of old age in the traditional sense: accumulated oxidative damage, mutations, deterioration of function.  Lobsters die of massive, exhausting molting marthons gone wrong.

Other organisms with (maybe) negligible senescence: hydras, naked mole rats (eusocial mammals, so cool!), some turtles, some trees, some clams.