Lobsters – those huge, prehistoric-looking creatures from under the sea that we’re so used to equating with the good life of the rich and famous and one the “expensive” part of any restaurant menu.
However, I just read something so interesting about them that I actually never knew that I felt instantly compelled to write about it. Let’s face it, writing makes things a bit more “immortal” in your mind, much as the trait that lobsters possess give them a leg up in the broad scape of sea life they inhabit.
Telomeres are the key
So, what is this unique trait that no other living species (identified as of yet) has? Well, lobsters actually have an enzyme in their body called telomerase which allows their telomeres, the ends of the DNA strands that keep life going, to live indefinitely. Normally in all other living creatures, including humans, telomeres shorten with age.
This shortening of the telomeres results in what we know as aging. Since the DNA and cells that comprise our genetic makeup depends on these telomeres to protect their integrity, when they shorten as they continue to replicate throughout the life of a living organism, it becomes impossible for the DNA to replicate into healthy cells.
Longer the DNA strands, the longer the life
This means you see the effects of this as aging such as organ degeneration, aging skin and hair (graying, thinning, etc.), less energy and all the other aging effects that don’t have such a positive connotation. This would also likely include other degenerative disease associated with aging of cells such as macular (eye) degeneration and hearing problems.
So, do lobsters actually hold some sort of cosmic key to longer life? Well it could be something worthy of further study, but it certainly isn’t something that could be easily replicated via science until it is well understood. Also there’s the question of a delivery mechanism.
For example, you probably could not just eat a lot of lobster and enjoy a longer life. At least not that we know of yet, and certainly even if that were true this would only be luxury that the very rich and famous could afford.
More likely, it’s an enzyme that would need to be isolated scientifically and then a delivery method that actually works would have to be determined.
Although it’s not 100% clear how long a lobster can theoretically live thanks to this genetic blessing, one lobster that was pulled from the sea was recently approximated to be 140 years old.
That’s one of the longest life spans in recent recorded history of any living creature, even the huge tortoises and some of the other life forms that have been identified as having exceptionally long life spans, especially considering their place in the food chain.