Sea urchin is ‘practically immortal’, say scientists

Yes, the little red sea urchins you see at the beach can live up to 200 years or more. Of course, that’s not what disturbs me in this article. Read:

Scientists thought the urchin lived for 10 or 15 years until they measured levels of radiocarbon 14, an element that increased significantly in all living organisms after the atmospheric A-bomb tests of the 1950s. The study found the urchin grew at a steady rate independent of changes in the marine habitat. “Once they near adult size our research indicates they do not have growth spurts,” Dr Ebert said. “It’s pretty simple; the bigger they are, the older they are.” The researchers also found urchins never stopped growing. Some of the largest are 19cm (7.5in) across. “They are probably 200 or more years old,” Dr Ebert said.

Now I could care less about the implications of 200 year old urchins. What concerns me is that I have radioactive carbon 14 going through my body because some policy wonk didn’t check the math on blowing up nukes in the atmosphere!

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