A microbiologist shared a strange fact about lobsters and people are freaked out

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”.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

But most were thrilled to learn something rather cool about the marine creature.

But whatever your feelings may be about them, you’ll probably never look at the lobster the same way again.

- Press Association

Most Read in #Discover