Long Lives

Long life is the wish of many of us. To live and be healthy into our 90s is a wonderful thing. People have been seeking ways to have longer lives for many centuries. And life expectancy is always improving.

In the Paleolithic age, it is estimated that at 15, life expectancy was 22 to 33 years. For 18th-century Massachusetts colonists who reached the age of 50, they could expect to live until 71, and those who were still alive at 60 could expect to reach 75.

The 2019-2020 world average life expectancy was 72.6–73.2 with females at 75.6 years and males at 70.8 years.

We may be evolving to longer lives, but many animals have us easily beat in that race. There are tortoises alive today that were 25 to 50 years old when Charles Darwin was born.

Marine animals can live for a thousand years—or possibly even forever. Terrestrial animals generally have shorter lifespans.

Can we discover their secret to long lives? yes, but it may not help us. Some secrets to longevity are immobility and slow growth rate. If an organism lives in the ocean that is a more stable environment than land, and the deeper you go, the less likely you are to die from a chance event.

Don’t be too depressed about your shorter lifespan. Consider a housefly whose life maxes out at about a month.

Amongst the mammals, the Arctic bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is by far the longest-living mammal on Earth. The average age of captured whales is 60 to 70 years, but genome sequencing has led researchers to estimate life spans of at least 200 years. The colder waters of the north Atlantic and north Pacific Oceans help.

And a tortoise (Testudinidae) who was considered the last living representative of Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle named Harriet died of heart failure in 2006 at the age of 175. This year, a 187-year-old Seychelles tortoise named Jonathan made it into the Guinness World Records as the oldest known living land animal.

Take care. Stay cold. Go deep/.

Jonathan, who resided on the island of Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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