I.e. Humans can sometimes meet even their great-great-grandparents, but are there any species that can be alive at the same time as their great-great-……-great-grandparents? I imagine it would be those species with a long lifespan and an early age of first reproduction.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do the species have to be animals? Many trees would seem to qualify. Then there's the Greenland shark: newscientist.com/article/… $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 17, 2021 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because it comes under the category of “idle amusement” rather than being a real problem in biology faced by the poster. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Mar 17, 2021 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ @David: Is it an official rule, that questions must relate to a "real problem in biology faced by the poster" ? $\endgroup$
    – KaPy3141
    Mar 18, 2021 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @KaPy3141 I quote from the Tour "Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do." And in the Help on Asking Questions "are more than just mindless social fun" $\endgroup$
    – David
    Mar 18, 2021 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ I take it that questions must not be motivated by the reactions or interactions they cause. I think I get it! $\endgroup$
    – KaPy3141
    Mar 18, 2021 at 23:40

1 Answer 1


Yes, cryopreservation works quite well for many species, including multicellular animals. So you can freeze the ancestor and wait until the descendant is there, then unfreeze them. A good recent example in the news would be the Siberian worms that woke up after being frozen in permafrost for a very long time.

Cryopreservation is routine in laboratories, to freeze ancestors and compare to descendants; see the Long Term Evolution Experiment. It doesn't work well for every organism of course. In principle it might work for humans.

Some bacteria will sporulate, and in spore form they can persist for thousands of years theoretically. They don't even need cryopreservation. There are other organisms that do something similar as well.


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