Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Was (eventual) death evolved?

  1. Aug 19, 2009 #1
    We all die eventually. Its a fact. However what is the mechanism for this? Is there an evolutionary aspect to it that was evolved early on in order to limit populations, or is it merely a chemical defect that has remained thus far or yet a unavoidable consequence of how our cells are made up?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 19, 2009 #2

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Sex.
    If you simply split in half then both halves continue living and split again.

    If you make little screaming copies of yourself then your genes don't have any interest in keeping you alive once there are more of themselves in the offspring.
     
  4. Aug 19, 2009 #3

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Short living species can faster adapt to environement changes, thus in some situations they will be preferred over their long living neighbours occupying the same niche.
     
  5. Aug 19, 2009 #4

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Death is as old as entropy.
     
  6. Aug 19, 2009 #5

    Lok

    User Avatar

    There is a small worm in the sea that is able to rejuvinate itself. Not sure how it is called though.

    It can reproduce normally but at some stage it just transforms into a younger self ( if that makes any sense)

    Death must have been evolved :D as the beings that started it all are still kicking ( algea). But Death cannot refer to single cell organisms as they just split. It is a multi cell thing that involved the death or destruction of the organism.
     
  7. Aug 19, 2009 #6
    Single cell organisms can live indefinitely?
     
  8. Aug 19, 2009 #7

    Lok

    User Avatar

    They can die of many causes. But their lineage does not, and considering that they split with one cell being a mother and one a daughter ( big and small ) and both live happily then one might say they live forever.
     
  9. Aug 20, 2009 #8
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turritopsis_nutricula" [Broken]

    Turritopsis nutricula, is a jellyfish that can revert back to the polyp stage, instead of dieing after producing offspring. Apparently in lab tests it reverts back to the polyp stage 100% of the time. Turritopsis nutricula is a pretty interesting read.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Aug 20, 2009 #9

    Lok

    User Avatar

    Yeah that is the one... did not remeber if it was a jellyfish or a worm, but jellyfish it is.
     
  11. Aug 20, 2009 #10

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Death is not something that evolved, we are bombarded everyday by damaging factors such as radiation and free radicals. It's a wonder that we can resist it.
     
  12. Aug 20, 2009 #11

    Lok

    User Avatar

    Death is a evolutionary must that involves a programed or necessary termination of a multicell colony or more evolved organism. The primitive colonies can split into single cell lifeforms but the colony itself is dead and with it the information it once stored ( e.g. shape and size ).

    The single cell lifeforms that we see today are the direct descendents of the first ever lifeforms on this planet. They evolved through mutations and may not resemble ancient bacteria but still they are as much alive as then.
     
  13. Aug 20, 2009 #12

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Hang on- Lok and Monique could be discussing different phenomena. Certainly, Moniques's "death due to decrepitude" is not evolved. But apoptosis (Lok's programmed cell death) is different, and could very well be.
     
  14. Aug 21, 2009 #13
    An interesting study being widely done is on Telemerase an enzyme that keeps the telemeres of DNA from "unraveling" - one of the major causes of ageing. The single cell tetrahymena has telemerase in all of its DNA and never ages or "dies" from aging. Humans have it in the stomach lining and in cancers - a cause of concern for using this to stop ageing. One possible evolutionary cause of death - the lack of this enzyme in all our DNA? If interested you can find massive research by looking up any of these terms.
     
  15. Aug 21, 2009 #14

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Telomerase.
     
  16. Aug 21, 2009 #15

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Okay, are we talking about death of the organism (no hereditary mechanism other than it has to happen after reproduction occurs, and likely no evolutionary mechanism since even the earliest organisms died, though there might be some argument that there has been evolution of lifespan, or the prevention of death until later in the organism's lifecycle), or cell death? Apoptosis is essential to development (without it, we'd all have webbed fingers and toes, for example), and certainly is heritable, and since defects in the process can affect an individual prior to reaching a reproductive age, and interfere with them reproducing, yes, it would have an evolutionary impact.

    I suspect, however, that the OP is inquiring about death of the organism from the phrasing of the question.
     
  17. Aug 24, 2009 #16

    Lok

    User Avatar

    Telomerase reduction is a necesity as old cells after 60 or so divisions contain a huge amount of DNA copy errors or damaged DNA wich can lead to cancer.

    If you take the telomerase in your lifetime you will have younger cells that live longer but you also enable cells wich have damaged DNA to rapidly evolve into cancer.
     
  18. Aug 24, 2009 #17
    Well the question was why do we die. As quoted by our favorite blue guy "A living body and a dead body have the same number of particles. Structurally there's no difference."
     
  19. Sep 12, 2009 #18
    sure there is structural difference, no composition difference though. Structurally, all of the proteins/ dna would start to degrade if not preserved well, cells would no longer maintain their structural either.
     
  20. Sep 19, 2009 #19

    harborsparrow

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I wonder. I've had a house plant for most of my entire life. It has been clipped, repotted, rerooted, fed, neglected, in cycles. It is still genetically the same plant.
     
  21. Oct 2, 2009 #20
    Death is not an evolutionary adaptation. Evolution is a procession that requires death to occur. Without death there is no evolution, so it is strange to ask if death is an evolutionary adaption, when it is actually an evolutionary given.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Was (eventual) death evolved?
  1. Evolving Humans (Replies: 6)

Loading...