Life on Other Planets from a Biological Perspective: Immortal Life Forms

About the biological perspective of life on other planets taking into account the forms life takes, consider seemingly immortal life forms like thousand year old sequoias.

Life on Other Planets: Another View

"Immortal" creatures. More than 4,500 years ago, around the time of the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza, a tree began to grow in what in time to come was to be called California. That tree, a towering sequoia (Sequoia gigantea), is still growing. Barring accident--such as being struck by lightning--it seems destined to live as long as life lasts upon this planet. Tissues of some plants seem to have a near-immortality built into them. One such tissue is the cambium of a tree, the specialized cells that form the tree's annual rings. Other cells, year after year (and, in the sequoias and some other conifers, century after century), add to the tree's height. These cells have lived as long as the tree has lived. Outer bark, limbs, and leaves have died and have been renewed; but the specialized cells of growth were in the seed when the tree was born. The sequoias and such trees as the bristlecone fir (Abies venusta) are outstanding examples of organisms with life-spans that appear to be indefinite. But all life-spans on earth are indefinitely long. Man is pushing beyond the biblical allotment of 3-score and 10. How far we can push our life-span no biologist will say; potentially we may be one with the sequoias . . .

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