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Genes to live a really extended lifetime

  1. Oct 3, 2005 #1
    Theoretically, could we (as a species) or could something else (as a species) evolve into something that lives a really really really really long time? I mean I really doubt that anything could actually become immortal because I think that the Universe will probably end at some point...

    But if the above is possible could the genes to live a really extended lifetime exist? (Even if, or especially if, they haven't been expressed in a living creature so far?)

    Just looking for insight/comments

    Anyways thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2005 #2
    humans are living longer than those cavemen days. Does that help?
  4. Oct 4, 2005 #3
    Is it possible future humans will live much longer from evolution due to women having children much later?
  5. Oct 4, 2005 #4

    jim mcnamara

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    There are some studies that propose this idea: Living a long time is a bad idea if you want a species to be able to "change" in a way that is responsive to the environment.

    Example: Bacteria have short "lives". That means they go through lots of generations in a short time. It also means they can respond Natural Selection really quickly.
    This is why a lot of human pathogenic bacteria are resistant to penicillin - penicillin was first used broadly after World War II. In forty years, by 1985, it had become a lot lesss effective because borad groups of bacteria had become resistant.

    If you want to read about why there is a limit to lifetimes, there is a concept of 'physiological time'. In very simple terms it means that organsims of our size and weight live, on average, for a defined number of heartbeats. This is why hummingbirds
    live for three-four years and humans more than fifty. This is an oversimplification.
    See allometric scaling:

    Rather human culture is evolving. There is more change in human culture in one week today, than there was in a human lifetime in the 1200's.
  6. Oct 4, 2005 #5
    I have read there is a strong link between life span and metabolic rate. Longer lived species have slower biological processes, especially metabolism.

    A fly in the soup is than mankind has been evolving more or less independant of Darwinian evolution since brain development reached the stage it was a million years or so ago. Hence, our evolution is very much in our hands, therefore, largly unpredictable.
  7. Oct 4, 2005 #6


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    It is still Darwinian evolution, it is just using a different set of criteria for selection.
    Evolution is always unpredictable (and I don't mean 'hard to predict', I mean, you can't predict what's going to happen). It is an emergent property - and only obvious after the fact, and that's independent of environmental - or social - factors.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2005
  8. Oct 7, 2005 #7


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    Such as trees that live for thousands of years?

    Yep, there's a very good correlation between life span and metabolic rate (also related to body size). (I don't have the data in front of me...but I recall a Gould article on it.) Humans deviate from that correlation (live longer than our peer species) perhaps due to our slow development (needed to support our complex brain development) and characteristic retention of signs of youth (thank you, sexual selection). I mention this deviation to show that it is possible to evolve a longer lifespan than "normal".

    p.s. I agree with DaveC426913 that human are not free from the effects of natural selection, but that's probably a separate debate.
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