Immortality may still be the stuff of legend for humans, but it’s a real possibility for a jellyfish native to the Mediterranean Sea.
Biologists are studying specimens of flora and fauna that live extraordinarily long lives. The longest living human on record is Jean Louise Calment, a Frenchwoman who lived 122 years and 164 days, but that’s nothing compared to the Greenland shark that may live over 500 years. In an accessible, informative text, Kenney (Healing Plants, 2018, etc.) introduces biologists and geneticists who study examples of extreme longevity in the plant and animal kingdoms, such as the possibly 80,000-year-old root system of a colony of male quaking aspens. One potentially immortal specimen is the hydra, a small freshwater animal described as “a simple tube without internal body organs”; the secret to its longevity is that its body is made of stem cells that repair and replace damaged body parts. Kenney discusses the technologies scientists use to determine age and longevity, including DNA sampling, growth rings, and radiocarbon dating, and how scientists are using their discoveries about aged plants and animals to research drugs to promote longevity in humans. High-quality color photographs and clear diagrams help explain the material. Useful for reports or reading for pleasure, this is an engaging and informative volume.
An intriguing look at some of world’s oldest organisms and the scientists who study them. (timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)