16 Immortal Animals Who Defy Death

Immortal Animals

Immortal Animals: For many years, humans have sought absolutely everything in order to attain immortality. This endeavor includes the search for the so-called “Fountain of Youth” and even freezing cadavers in the hope of preserving and bringing them to life in the future.

Apparently, there are already a number of existing plant and animal species that are seemingly deathless, if not, can live for a very long time when compared to the lifespan of humans.

To put it in other words, these organisms could die as they might get killed by either a predator or a destructive change in the environment, or suffer from a disease. But unlike humans, they rarely die because of old age.

Below are some of these amazing biologically immortal animals that actually live in this world. The following list is in no particular order.

Immortal Animals

1. Aldabra Giant Tortoise

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Geochelone gigantea Chordata Reptilia Testudines Testudinidae Aldabrachelys
Aldabra Giant Tortoise
Aldabra Giant Tortoise

Lifespan: 255 years (confirmed)

As their name suggests, these tortoises are one of the largest species of tortoises in the world. These tortoises take a very long time to grow as they do not reach sexual maturity until over 30 years old. The oldest confirmed age of a tortoise was 255 years. This tortoise was Adwaita at the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata India. However, scientists have revealed that some may have persisted twice that age.

More Reading: BBC News

2. Bdelloids

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Bdelloidea Rotifera Bdelloidea Adinetida Philodinavidae Rotaria
Bdelloids
Bdelloids

Lifespan: One hundred Million Years (Immortal)

Bdelloids are a group of freshwater rotifers (zooplankton) that can be considered “immortal” in a sense that they can tolerate extreme conditions like high heat, low temperature, and extreme pressure. Furthermore, they can also enter a state of “hibernation” and come back when they wish to do so.

More Reading: ASM Blog

3. Bowhead Whales

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Balaena mysticetus Chordata Mammalia Cetacea Balaenidae Balaena
Bowhead Whales
Bowhead Whales

Lifespan: 200+ years

Aside from their humongous size, another astonishing fact about bowhead whales is that they can live up to more than a hundred years. The secret to this? They can repair damaged DNA, hence are prevented from developing cancer. Scientists also suggested that these whales can survive the absence of oxygen even for a long time.

More Reading: ABC News

4. Clams

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Arenaria (steamer clam) Mollusca Bivalvia Myoida Myidae Mya
Clams
Clams

Lifespan: 400+ years

Believe it or not, some species of clams can live up to more than 400 years. Scientist explain that their long lifespan can be attributed to a process called “slowed cell replacement” but at present, there are still no reasons stating what makes them mature at a slow rate. This process too is still up for further studies.

More Reading: Science Daily

5. Glass Sponges

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Scolymastra joubini Porifera Hexactinellida Lyssacinosida Rossellidae Scolymastra
Glass Sponges
Glass Sponges (Source: Pinterest)

Lifespan: 15,000+ years

Although they’re not necessarily deathless (due to some inevitable instances like being eaten by predators), some species of glass sponges can survive up to more than 15,000 years! This is because some species can control the growth of their spicules (mineralized structures) at a very slow rate, hence slowing down their aging process.

More Reading: The Myth of Human Supremacy

6. Greenland Shark

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Scolymastra joubini Porifera Hexactinellida Lyssacinosida Rossellidae Scolymastra

Lifespan: 272+ years

Known as the longest living vertebrate with an average lifespan of 272 years, this species of sharks does not reach sexual maturity until 150 years. The secret to this is pretty obvious– its incredible ability to withstand the intense darkness and freezing temperature at 2200 meters depth.

More Reading: CNN

7. Hydra

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Hydra Animalia Cnidaria Hydrozoa Anthomedusae Hydridae

Lifespan: Immortal

According to studies, the hydra is one of the few animals that does not show any signs of deterioration with age. Being able to continuously divide and regenerate new body cells, hydras can basically keep themselves young for long periods of time (even until forever).

8. Jellyfish

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Turritopsis dohrnii Cnidaria Hydrozoa Anthoathecata Oceaniidae Turritopsis
Jelly fish
Jellyfish

Lifespan: Immortal unless disease or predation

Did you ever wonder if you could go back to being a child? This species of jellyfish can! Found in the waters of Japan and Mediterranean sea, the immortal jellyfish is the only animal which can go back to being sexually immature after reaching maturity. This process can be indefinite as long as the jellyfish doesn’t die of either disease or predation.

9. Immortal Lobsters

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Homarus americanus Arthropoda Malacostraca Decapoda Nephropidae Homarus
Lobster
Lobster

Lifespan: 100+ years unless predation

Scientists suggested that through time, some lobsters can persist and even increase their fertility because of a certain enzyme called telomerase. This enzyme repairs the lost sections of the DNA; hence, “aged” cells are again reverted to being young. Though such process renders them to stay “deathless“, the exact life span of a lobster is difficult to determine because of the regular molting of exoskeleton.

More Reading: Sun News

10. Lungfish

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Neoceratodus forsteri Chordata Sarcopterygii Ceratodontiformes Ceratodontidae Neoceratodus
Lungfish
Lungfish

Lifespan: 100+ years

Lungfishes are one of the oldest species of fish in the planet and unlike other fishes, they can breathe out of water and survive this for long periods of time. In addition to that, they can slow down their metabolic rate and live even without nutrients for years!

More Reading: Environment Australia

11. Planaria

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Planaria torva Platyhelminthes Rhabditophora Tricladida Planariidae Planaria
Planaria
Planaria (Source: mit.edu)

Lifespan: Indefinite

This ubiquitous organism has a simple yet incredible organ system that allows the indefinite regeneration of any lost body part. Because of this, this organism apparently can stay young and can never get old (unless it wants to).

More Reading: University of Nottingham Press Release

12. Red Sea Urchin

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Mesocentrotus franciscanus Echinodermata Echinoidea Echinoida Strongylocentrotidae Mesocentrotus
Red Sea Urchins
Red Sea Urchins

Lifespan: 200+ Years

Living on seaweeds in shallow waters, Mesocentrotus franciscanus or the red sea urchin is considered to be “practically immortal“. Although amazing as it may sound, scientists say these urchins can never stop growing but don’t get old. While they can live up to more than a hundred years old, some may reach up to 200 years, given that the environmental conditions are good.

More Reading: Oregon State University

13. Rough Eye Rockfish

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Sebastes aleutianus Chordata Actinopterygii Scorpaeniformes Sebastidae Sebastes
Rough Eye Rockfish
Rough Eye Rockfish

Lifespan: 200+ Years

Coming from the Greek word “Sebastes” which means “magnificent“, this type of rockfish certainly lives up to its name. Known as the longest living marine fish in the world, it can live more than 205 years old! In addition to this characteristic, the Rough eye rockfish is highly distinguishable because of prominent spines in the lower rim of their eyes.

More Reading: Homer News

14. Sea Anemone

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Actiniaria Cnidaria Anthozoa Actiniaria Edwardsioidea Heteromysis S

Lifespan: 100+ Years

Technically, sea anemones don’t actually live that long but with favorable environmental conditions, they can survive more than a hundred years! This is because when one of their tentacles or even their “head” gets cut, they can regenerate them into new ones.

More Reading: BBC News

15. Tree Weta/ Zombie Bugs

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Hemideina sp Arthropoda Insecta Orthoptera Anostostomatidae Hemideina
Tree Weta
Tree Weta

Lifespan: Immortal unless predation

These bugs are very resilient to freezing as they have special proteins in their blood that prevents this from happening. While their hearts and brains are not that resistant to freezing and can die when completely frozen, they can be ‘revived’ to life when thawed out.

More Reading: Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand (1992)

16. Water Bear

Binomial Name Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Hypsibius dujardini Tardigrades Eutardigrada Apochela Milnesiidae Beorn leggi

Lifespan: Up to Century

Also known as tardigrades, water bears are possibly the toughest animal in the planet. These creatures, though very tiny (not more than 1.5 mm), can survive extreme conditions like boiling (greater than 100°C, freezing (-272.8°C), cutting, drying, or even putting them in the outer space! In addition to this, they can tolerate extreme radiation and can stop their metabolism for a long time and “come back to life” when they get in contact with water.

More Reading: BBC News

Throughout evolution, man has already accomplished tons of great things but somehow is constantly being reminded how fragile he is as an organism. While the above mentioned immortal animals certainly can assist in seeking answers to long life, they can also hold the secrets to why people age in the first place. But then again, the question remains…

Is immortality more of a curse rather than a blessing? What do you think?

Cite this article as: "16 Immortal Animals Who Defy Death," in Bio Explorer, October 31, 2016, https://www.bioexplorer.net/immortal-animals.html/.
16 Immortal Animals Who Defy Death
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