"Immortal" animals with incredible superpowers, on Ushuaïa TV - The Canadian
Tuesday, November 24

“Immortal” animals with incredible superpowers, on Ushuaïa TV


Some themes do not require any artifice to captivate the viewer. This is the case with immortality. In the pale sobriety of the university laboratory in Montpellier, around sanitized benches, Professor Simon Galas and Doctor Myriam Richaud share the progress of their studies on small animals that are not very beautiful, even frankly ugly. Yet they are the five heroes ofImmortals. Tiny worm, small jellyfish, wrinkled rat, lobster… each one indeed has a superpower, which allows him to defy death. We meet them in vitro, we also observe them in their natural environment, thanks to this documentary which looks like a science fiction film – except that here everything is true.

Some of these “superheroes” are part of our daily lives, like the blue lobster, although we do not know that it can live up to 140 years. Or the lizard, able to regenerate its tail if it is snatched from it – though the planarian, a stingray-faced aquatic flatworm, gleefully outshines it, causing any part of its body to grow back, including its head.

Space flights

Others benefit from a small notoriety, such as the “immortal jellyfish”, whose metabolism can go back in time, or the naked mole rat, of which a hundred agitated individuals have just been installed in Maisons-Alfort (Val -de-Marne), under the benevolent responsibility of Doctor Mélanie Viltard.

Read the tribune (in 2013): The anti-cancer secret of the naked mole rat

More placid, the water bear is part of the small group of animals that have had the honors of space flights. Sent aboard the Israeli probe Bereshit, which crashed in April 2019 on landing, this little tardigrade has such resilience that he would have survived the crash, at least temporarily.

Read the story (in 2019): Israeli probe Bereshit crashes while landing on the moon

Another pioneer in the conquest of space, the Caenorhabditis elegans was sent on the Columbia shuttle which exploded in February 2003. All seven astronauts were killed, but the little worms survived.

Read the report (in 2003): Columbia shuttle missing with seven astronauts on board

Will cutting poor worms into pieces and watching them reconstitute themselves allow man, if not to be immortal, at least to live longer and in good health? Perhaps. Pragmatic, the documentary recalls the importance of the luck factor – or bad luck. He thus recalls the fate of the Ming clam, the oldest animal in the world, aged 507, who was killed in 2006 by mistake, victim of improper handling.

The Immortals, directed by Basile Gerbaud (Fr., 2020, 52 min).


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