I've been reading a lot about longevity and I came up with this Wikipedia article where it states that it might be possible for lobsters to live indefinitely.

Recent research suggests that lobsters may not slow down, weaken, or lose fertility with age. In fact, older lobsters are more fertile than younger lobsters. This longevity may be due to telomerase, an enzyme that repairs DNA sequences of the form "TTAGGG".[9] This sequence is often referred to as the telomeres of the DNA.[10][11] It has been argued that lobsters may exhibit negligible senescence and some scientists have claimed that they could effectively live indefinitely, barring injury, disease, capture, etc.[12] Their longevity allows them to reach impressive sizes. According to the Guinness World Records, the largest lobster was caught in Nova Scotia, Canada, and weighed 20.15 kilograms (44.4 lb).[13][14]

I seriously find this hard to believe, so under the right circumstances, can lobsters maintain their Negligible Senescence forever?

  • 5
    You are citing the research that says it can. I am not sure what you expect to have as a better answer.
    – Chad
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 20:35
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    I'm not citing the research itself, I'm citing an article that says there is a research. What I'm expecting is more detail, perhaps someone else find another research or something, if everyone followed what you are saying the site wouldn't exist.
    – isJustMe
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 20:48
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    Related: Is it impossible to tell a lobster's age? (BTW, what they talk about in the article is “Negligible Senescence”.) Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 21:37
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    @Rafael.IT - The article you cited was linked to the original research. Had you looked at these? There is also a large difference between not having a finite life expectancy and being immortal.
    – Chad
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 13:09
  • 2
    If they would live forever, they cells would divide forever, with non-zero chance of mutation that would mean, eventually they'd have to have cancer (funny thing, that cancer is actually Latin for lobster ;-)
    – vartec
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


Emerging Area of Aging Research: Long-Lived Animals with “Negligible Senescence”

Field observations have suggested for quite some time that certain fish, turtles, and invertebrates have extremely long maximum life span potential. Age validation techniques have since confirmed these observations, but scientific analysis to understand the genetic and biochemical basis of this longevity has occurred only recently. The Centenarian Species and Rockfish Project now encompasses 13 pilot research projects, including such diverse investigations as histology, a cDNA library, and mitochondrial mutation analysis. In this document, the term “negligible senescence” is defined, and its background is given; age validation techniques are listed, and the various projects to date, including research results, are summarized.

Longevity of lobsters is linked to ubiquitous telomerase expression.

Lobsters (Homarus americanus) grow throughout their life and the occurrence of senescence is slow.[...]We conclude that telomerase activation is a conserved mechanism for maintaining long-term cell proliferation capacity and preventing senescence, not only in cellular models or embryonic life stages but also in adult multicellular organisms.


We don't know, and there are probably better examples of biological immortality than lobsters. It is still a matter under extensive research.

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No, they aren't immortal. They may not die of senescence, but they do eventually die. What kills them is being trapped in their shells.

Each molt takes more and more time and energy, and as the lobster grows older it becomes more likely to fail to molt successfully. Once this happens, the lobster is doomed. Bacteria and parasites start forming scar tissue around the shell, which consumes the lobster from the outside in. Lobsters also sometimes just die of exhaustion during the molts.

Additional sources:

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