why do we die?

jason cooper jcooper at acs6.acs.ucalgary.ca
Thu Nov 9 15:56:55 EST 1995


rwilson (rwilson at panda.uchc.edu) wrote:

:   It seems to me that theres no fundamental law of biology  which
: excludes the possibility of a multicellular organism living a very,
: very long time.  There are trees which are thousands of years old and I
: can imagine vegetative fungi living for tens of thousands of years or
: longer. 

Is it even advantageous for a species to have a long life span?
As you mention later, creatures have a way of surviving at least
until reproductive age -- but after that, why should a creature
survive longer?  A few mating seasons, perhaps, but after that an
individual creature becomes old genes.  Even at a fast
reproductive rate, reproduction of old genes is generally not a
good idea (since evolution ensures that the good part of those
genes will probably survive anyways).

It's advantageous for *you* to live a long time, but is it
advantageous to the species?  I would guess that it is, at best,
neutral, and at worst very detrimental.

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Jason Cooper                              jcooper at acs.ucalgary.ca




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