Saturday, September 8, 2007

The longevity of whales

The old man of the sea « Ouroboros
"Embedded deep under its blubber was a 3½-inch arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale’s age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old. …

Calculating a whale’s age can be difficult, and is usually gauged by amino acids in the eye lenses. It’s rare to find one that has lived more than a century, but experts say the oldest were close to 200 years old."

"...Whether they age or not, whales demonstrate that mammals can live at least twice as long as humans, raising the question of how they do it. As intractable a model system as even small whales might be for the average bench scientist, it would nonetheless be fascinating to study age-related phenomena in these creatures, perhaps in a cell-culture system where we could ask questions about their cellular senescence, DNA repair, and oxidation."

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