By Anupum Pant
One thing is for sure, crocodiles do not die. But you hear about dead crocodiles all the time, right? There’s more to it than just saying they do not die. You must check that link out to see what I’m trying to say.
Hydra, a simple freshwater organism is another one of those interesting animals that do not die – or rather, are biologically immortal. Of course they’d die if you took them out of water.
Now, you can’t get a hydra, keep it in water and keep it observing for years. Then it’d beat the world’s longest continuously running experiment. But Daniel Martinez, after hearing that Hydras have this extraordinary power which makes them literally immortal, decided to test what he had heard. Of course he couldn’t keep watching them not die forever. So, he did it for about four years.
At first, four years doesn’t seem like a long enough to say that the animal doesn’t ever die. But if you look closely at a pattern all organisms follow, a hydra surviving for four years is a solid enough proof to say that it can last for ever.
The rule says – the sooner an animal has babies, the sooner it dies. A fly for instance, has babies after about 2 weeks, so it dies after about 2 months. Elephants on the other hand have babies after 13 years and they die when they turn years. This linear trend is something which all the animals follow.
So, since hydra has babies after a couple of days, it must not survive for more than a few weeks, according to this trend. But it does, and beats the curve by a massive margin. Four years is several times their expected lifespan. It’s be like an elephant living for 2,500 years.
How it does it explained by this. Hydra is a simple organism, with almost all of its cell doing very basic functions. These keep dividing endlessly and before they get very old, these cells fall off and are replaced by new cells. In four years, the organism changes all its cells about 60 times! That’s 60 new Hydras in four years.