Leach’s Storm-petrel is not Immortal

by Laurie McAndish King on May 21, 2010

You read it here first: Leach’s Storm-petrel is not immortal. I came across this fascinating bit of information on Wikipedia. It has not been vetted, but it was interesting enough that I wanted to mention it here. When I get time, I’ll do more research. Meanwhile, this is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s entry for Oceanodroma leucorhoa— Leach’s Storm-petrel:




Leach's Storm-Petrel Leach’s Storm-Petrel




“Lifespan for this bird is unusually long for a bird of such rather small size, with an average of 20 years and a maximum recorded lifespan of 36 years. In 2003, Haussmann et al*  found that the bird’s telomeres lengthen with age, the only known example to date of such a phenomenon.”

“Telomere shortening in cell division limits the maximum lifespan of most other species. The lifespan of the Leach’s Petrel is therefore theoretically limitless. This is a matter of debate, however. Studies have shown that while the telomere growth may have contributed to the eldest of specimens, young specimens exhibit telomeres that are longer, and shorten over time. The Leach’s Petrel lifespan may be inconclusive, but there is no data to support the hypothesis that this species is possibly immortal.”

*Haussmann M. F. et al. (2003): Telomeres shorten more slowly in long-lived birds and mammals than in short-lived ones. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 270:1387–1392

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ws July 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm

The birds can die from accidents, diseases, predators (these birds aren’t very big), and therefore that can contribute to their observed lifespan in the wild. but it doesnt mean they can’t be biologically immortal (cannot die of old age)

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