why do we die?

Mary K. Kuhner mkkuhner at phylo.genetics.washington.edu
Fri Nov 10 12:49:23 EST 1995

jcooper at acs6.acs.ucalgary.ca (jason cooper) writes:

>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.

This would make it very hard to understand the widespread success of
trees, most of which live for decades or centuries after first
reproduction.  Almost nothing is always advantageous or always
disadvantageous; it depends on circumstances.  I suspect trees profit
from long lifespans because the survival of very young trees is so iffy;
one bad winter or forest fire can wipe out all the young individuals.
Survival of the older individuals provides a way of restocking after
such a disaster.

The organism that really puzzles me in this context is the century plant
(which I was lucky enough to see flowering once in Berkeley,
California).  It lives longer than I'm likely to, and flowers *once* at
the end of its lifespan.  As far as I know it doesn't propagate
vegetatively, either.  What conditions make this a reasonable life

Mary Kuhner mkkuhner at genetics.washington.edu

I do not receive posts from the following systems because they tolerate
abuse of Usenet:  interramp.com psi.com scruz.net
If you wish me to see your message anyway please use email.

More information about the Mol-evol mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net