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Do organisms exist that are able to live indefinitely if they are not killed by external factors?

Under external factors I would consider things like predators and natural disaster but not illness by bacteria f.e.

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the biggest issues for immortality are internal factors - senescence (aging) is a planned death on a cellular and organismal level. the above referenced question is a pretty good review of answers. Aubrey de Grey is another good google term to understand proposals which may reverse aging. –  shigeta May 2 '13 at 13:18
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If you're referring to the elves of Middle Earth, I'm sorry no they do not exist. –  Daniel Standage May 2 '13 at 13:20
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@StevenRoose see this book (books.google.co.uk/…) page 108. It defines extrinsic and intrinsic causes of death - as someone studying aging and lifespan I can tell you these are standard definitions and bacterial/viral infections are considered extrinsic. –  GriffinEvo Jul 8 '13 at 21:36
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The immortal jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turritopsis_dohrnii –  Kevin May 16 at 20:25

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I now found this Wikipedia article on biological immortality. It's pretty much what I was looking for.

Wikipedia describes the phenomenon as follows:

Biological immortality refers to a stable or decreasing rate of mortality from cellular senescence as a function of chronological age. Various unicellular and multicellular species may achieve this state either throughout their existence or after living long enough. A biologically immortal living thing can still die from means other than senescence, such as through injury or disease.

It has a list of such organisms as well, consisting of

Addendum: This blog post takes a good look into the myth of lobster immortality. It seems to be as much a myth as the result of any substantial observation.

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It would be helpful to summarise the content of your links for future readers –  Rory M May 2 '13 at 16:57

Yes. The Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva, is one example. This species boasts the oldest individual living organisms, and also has been convincingly argued by Lanner and Connor (2001) to show no evidence of senescence.

While the Wikipedia page on Biological Immortality (as of June 2013) unfortunately ignores plants, the pages on Negligible Senescence and Longest-lived Organisms list many plant seeds, clonal groups, and individuals.

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