Don’t Listen to the Buzz: Lobsters Aren’t Actually Immortal

European lobster
Contrary to memes circulating online, lobsters can't live forever—but they do keep growing and growing until they die

In recent weeks, photos of lobsters have been floating around social media with captions calling the crustaceans “biologically immortal.” Anyone with an Internet connection can even create a meme juxtaposing this fact with a joke of his or her own. But is this fun fact actually, well, fact?
The viral scientific tidbit can be traced back to a brief 2007 news story that reports that lobsters don’t show typical signs of a phenomenon known as senescence. In plain terms, the report says that lobsters don’t age the way other living creatures do—they don’t lower their reproductive ability, slow their metabolism or decrease in strength. This led to extrapolations that lobsters, if left undisturbed, can’t die. Other websites write that lobsters’ incredible longevity is courtesy of their DNA, with credit specifically due to telomerase, an enzyme used in cell division that protects the ends of chromosomes.

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