A microbiologist shared a strange fact about lobsters and people are freaked out
‘Lobsters made a deal with the devil for conditional immortality and it backfired on them.’
Lobsters are genetically programmed not to age biologically. For us humans, it may sound like they have life’s secret ingredient in their grasp, but there’s a catch.
As microbiology student @junius_64, points in an illuminating Twitter thread, they continue to grow and moult (shed their hard inelastic shell) right up till they die, but it is this very process that leads to their demise.
Junius likens their life cycle to making “a deal with the devil for conditional immortality and it backfired on them”.
[bong rip]— 🦠🧬totes prokaryotes🧬🦠 🔜 MFF (@JUNIUS_64) June 21, 2018
lobsters made a deal with the devil for conditional immortality and it backfired on them. you cannot change my mind
So what’s the secret to their longevity? The answer is telomeres, ie, structures at the end of chromosomes that keep them from deteriorating.
Humans lose some part of their telomeres every time a cell divides. And because we have a limited number of telomeres, cells stop dividing when they reach critical length, causing our bodies to deteriorate.
ok so basically— 🦠🧬totes prokaryotes🧬🦠 🔜 MFF (@JUNIUS_64) June 21, 2018
lobsters do not die of old age. the only thing time does to a lobster is make it bigger and bigger, if environmental conditions are good
this is because they have a secret molecular trick over all of us senescent rubes: constant production of telomerase
This phenomenon of biological ageing – where reproductive ability lowers, metabolism slows down and strength decreases – is known as senescence.
As Junius put it, “our biology encodes death as an inevitability”.
Death is still an inevitability though, whether our biology encodes a plan for it or not— 🦠🧬totes prokaryotes🧬🦠 🔜 MFF (@JUNIUS_64) June 21, 2018
entropy always comes for its due, and that’s what even lobsters must accept
But unlike us – and most biological organisms – lobsters constantly produce telomeres, causing the crustaceans to just get bigger and bigger.
In fact, the biggest lobster ever caught weighed about 44 pounds and was estimated to be 140 years old.
But despite their endless supply of telomeres, lobsters are doomed as much as we are.
Lobsters never age. they keep growing and growing and growing. but their skeleton is on the outside, and it isn’t exactly flexible. They need to molt and grow a new shell once they outgrow the old one— 🦠🧬totes prokaryotes🧬🦠 🔜 MFF (@JUNIUS_64) June 21, 2018
this is a very, very energetically taxing and dangerous affair
As Junius explains: “Entropy always comes for its due, and that’s what even lobsters must accept.”
Death finally catches up during the moulting process. As the crustaceans get bigger, they need more energy to grow out of their exoskeletons.
When it becomes too much effort, their shells accumulate parasites and bacteria and the lobsters become trapped in their own skeletons.
Junius’s Twitter thread saw people on the internet collectively terrified and fascinated.
I for one would welcome our new World Eater Overlord to usher in an age of peace beneath its mighty, overwhelmingly calorically expensive claws— _ (@leisurelefty) June 22, 2018
Thanks 2 this thread now imagining a giant millions of years old lobster in the ocean somewhere— David Allkins (@AllkinsDavid) June 22, 2018
But most were thrilled to learn something rather cool about the marine creature.
Oh my God I have been teaching about lobsters and their genetic immortality to classes for *years* and this is such a good line I am totally ripping it off for next term.— Andrew Reid (@mygoditsraining) June 22, 2018
This was legit one of the most interesting and insightful things I’ve read in quite some time. Thanks for sharing your lobster knowledge and clear proof of their satanic dealings.— matt hardeman (@capnnarcolepsy) June 22, 2018
Why is this the most beautiful piece of science I have EVER EVEN READ!?!— Holly Mayes (@hollyjmayes) June 22, 2018
Oh, wow! You are not wrong! This thread made my heart go on a happy little kinase cascade to grin-ville! 😂😂😂😂— Erin. (@HistopotaMs) June 22, 2018
But whatever your feelings may be about them, you’ll probably never look at the lobster the same way again.