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Really Seven Hundred Years Old / Real Life

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  • This tree in Sweden may look like a mere sapling, but the above-ground portion is just the latest offshoot of a root system that has been growing continuously since the end of the last Ice Age.
    • While not quite that extreme, olive trees are well known for that. While the tree itself might die, the root system will live on and produce several trees. Root systems being thousands of years old are not rare, especially in parts of the Middle East.
    • That's nothing compared to "Pando", a clonal colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah whose root system is estimated to be about 80,000 years old. There might even be other, less well-studied Quaking Aspen-systems in the area that are one million years old.
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    • For that matter, there are several such instances of very long-lived plant-based organisms.
    • Not to mention fungal mycelia, which are typically as old as the forests they grow under.
  • The Turritopsis nutricula is, theoretically, biologically immortal. After sexual maturity and reproducing, the creature reverts to a polyp (younger) stage. The cells and biology of the creature change completely as opposed simply mimicking the younger stage. The process of developing sexual maturity, reproduction, and returning to the polyp stage then repeats.
  • There is evidence that hydras may age very slowly or not at all, making them potential candidates for being biologically immortal.
  • Sea turtles never age. They can die only by violent death or by an illness not caused or hastened by old age.
    • Not the case. They do not age outwardly past maturity, still making them candidates for this trope. The more long-lived ones last about 80 years.
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    • Even more true of some tortoises — the Galapagos variety can supposedly live to 200 or more!
      • One of the three giant tortoises taken from the Galapagos Islands by Charles Darwin, named Harriet, was 176 years old when she died in 2006, making her the oldest animal of whom we have confirmed records.
      • Adwaita, an Aldabra giant tortoise (a species native to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean) who also died in 2006, may have been as much as 255 years old at the time of death. A report suggests that the 18th-century British officer Clive of India captured the tortoise as a pet in the mid-eighteenth century, and the Indian zoo where he lived had documentation clearly indicating the tortoise came from the Clive family estate. However, because records are hazy and the zoo only got the animal in 1875, we can't be quite sure of the creature's age. It is significant, however, that Adwaita only died after an infection that arose when his shell was cracked.
      • Most turtles and tortoises can live to be 80 to 100 years old; this includes small land turtles and tortoises which are kept as pets. However, because of the way people treat these creatures, most die of either abuse, malnutrition, or neglect within one year. Statistics are given by a member of the Colorado Reptile Humane Society board.
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  • Females of many species of spiders, at least those who do not die of debilitation after laying eggs, continue to grow and molt throughout their entire lives. They generally die from predation, duels with rivals of their own species, or molting problems that can affect older individuals (who, like the turtles, do not differ visually from their younger selves). Female tarantulas can live to be 30 while continuing to mate with males who seldom reach 2.
  • In the Bristle Cone Pine page info in the Wikipedia entry, there is also a link to the Arctica islandica, an ordinary-looking mollusk actually found to be 405 to 410 years old. This made it the longest solitary animal on record which forms accretionary skeletons.
  • And then there's the Yew, a major contender in the Oldest Living Thing stakes. In Britain, many parish churches have yews in the grounds and there are many folk explanations, the most common being that they were planted to provide the close-grained, flexible timber required to make longbows for the English army. However, given how painfully slowly yew trees grow, this is clearly nonsense. The trees weren't planted in the churchyard, the church and churchyard were planted in the yew groves that were already very old and sacred to the kind of guys who built Stonehenge.
  • Many trees, left to themselves, will age and eventually die but if humans intervene by coppicing, as they have for millennia for the production of charcoal, fencing poles and other trappings of industry and agriculture, there seems to be no limit to how long they can survive. Coppicing keeps the tree eternally youthful.
  • Given that there are different branches of medical science that are separately working on coming up with ways to someday make it possible to maintain a youthful appearance for years as well as have longer life expectancies, it is be safe to say that medical science is ultimately working toward making some form of Really 700 Years Old possible for humans.
  • Most people don't think of humans as particularly notable for their age, but while the average lifespan of a human is fairly normal in the mammal world, their record age (122 years old, if not more) is the second longest of any mammal. It's possible that one man once lived to 150, but this is almost certainly a case of him being confused with his grandfather, whose name he shared.
  • The bowhead whale lives for longer than any other mammal, with some estimated to have reached over 200 years old. A male was recently killed and shown to have a harpoon manufactured in the 1890s embedded in his blubber, showing that he survived an attack by whalers (when he was presumably already an adult). The whale seems to be able to resist cancer, contributing to its longevity.
  • A koi by the name of Hanako was determined to be over 215 years old through studies of her scales, which grow rings like tree trunks. She died in 1970. By comparison, koi are usually said to not live beyond 50. Sort of gives new meaning to the koi's reputed longevity, huh?
  • The Greenland shark puts all other vertebrates to shame. Some specimens are up to five hundred years old. That's almost twice as much as the oldest sea turtle!
    • In addition to their incredibly long lifespan, they can take 150 years to reach maturity. A Greenland shark born during the American Civil War may not even be able to breed yet!
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