Re: Cornering the causes of aging

From: John Clark (
Date: Mon Jul 10 2000 - 11:13:52 MDT

Damien Broderick <> Wrote:

>>A bug will probably get eaten within a year anyway so there's
>>little point in maintaining the organism so well it could live longer than
>>that, better to reduce the maintenance budget and increase the reproduction
>>budget and have lots of offspring.

> I keep reading this strange argument, but I can't understand why. Unless
> you factor in some advantages from sexual re-mixing of
> immunity/anti-parasite armaments, this mostly makes no sense to me [...]
>*Everyone* has a chance of getting eaten within a given year, or a day. The
> young are, if anything, *more vulnerable*.

Yes, but that doesn't matter because if you have enough offspring some will survive
and the gene doesn't care which particular individual it uses to get into the next
generation. There is no way immortality could come for free, it would take work, and
all that work would be wasted if you're eaten for lunch when you're only 6 months old.
The genes have "decided" that in a dangerous world finite resources could be put to
better use, such as growing fast and having lots of offspring and having them early
in life. The more dangerous things are the sooner you want them.

>So there's no obvious advantage, to the embodied gene complex, in disposing
>of a trained, fertile soma - *unless* the costs of maintaining its numerous
>and specialised tissues are very much greater than throwing an adult soma
>away and starting with ignorant near-copies

I think that's exactly why evolution never thought it was worth the bother to
come up with an immortal animal. Why do you think that explanation for aging
is insufficient?

            John K Clark

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