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Author Topic: Will its longevity eventually make a tortoise suicidal?  (Read 2186 times)

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Don will like this one because it's about chelonians :3

One thing that I find fascinating about organisms with long lives such as the tortoise besides just how long it lives, is how it still wants to live even though it can become very old and even slower than it already was.

My question is 'is there a point where even an organism with a greater longevity than a human's just wants to die already?' I can't imagine being that old and still fighting my environment and daily struggles to continue to live.

But perhaps that's because humans are selfish and have a large pain-avoidance instinct? :{o~


 

Offline RD

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Re: Will its longevity eventually make a tortoise suicidal?
« Reply #1 on: 27/07/2012 00:07:49 »
Evolution can select for behaviour which is suicidal if that behaviour provides a net increase in the number of copies of genes …
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene-centered_view_of_evolution#Individual_altruism.2C_genetic_egoism

If becoming suicidal when elderly was an inheritable trait, and that suicide increased their younger blood-relatives chances of survival , e.g. when food was in short supply, then there would be natural selection for that suicidal behaviour.
« Last Edit: 27/07/2012 00:58:23 by RD »
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Will its longevity eventually make a tortoise suicidal?
« Reply #2 on: 27/07/2012 09:39:49 »
Studies have shown that there is greater happiness and contentment where there is a narrower difference in wealth distribution and, therefore, earnings. This, I suppose, lessens or perhaps even eliminates that awful human characteristic, jealousy. The greater the happiness and contentment, the less cases of suicidal tendency.

Jealousy may not be a characteristic confined to the human race, but it is certainly one exaggerated by our systems, which seem to promote inequality. A refuse worker may be jealous of a doctor. ‘How come he can afford an ‘S’ class Mercedes for curing health problems, when I can only afford a Ford for preventing the spread of disease and the risk of accidents in the first place by disposing of rubbish?’

In the animal kingdom, no such jealousy exists. Their ‘jealousy’ (if you can call it that) extends only to who has the best hunting/foraging and water and the best chance of mating. Otherwise, animals are equal, so presumably they are happy and content and will follow the inbuilt will to survive.

Some species of Tortoise can live for around 200 years, with Adwaita (an Aldabra) being claimed to be the same Tortoise that was the pet of Clive of India dying at around 256yrs of age. Parrots are also known to have great longevity and a Koi Carp still holds the Guinness Book of Records record for the longest lived individual vertebrate.

Given that these animals do not experience the ‘I just can’t go on’ syndrome that humans feel and their inbuilt instinct to survive, I can’t see that suicide would be an option. Even when under attack from a predator and the situation is hopeless, the prey will still struggle to escape and survive.

There are ground nesting birds and other animals which will act in what might be described as a suicidal manner, to draw attention to themselves’ to lure a potential threat away from their nest. But suicide is not the object, in fact the opposite is the case. They put themselves’ at risk to protect their young, but they must survive to ensure their young survive.

In some arachnids, the male risks being eaten by the female he attempts to mate with and in some cases it will happen. The Black Widow did not get its name without good reason, though it is now known that the male will not always be eaten by the female. A male Red Back is far more likely to be on the menu after mating, but it may be that this is the male’s way of enhancing its chances of a successful mating. By providing the female with a good meal, it helps in the production of healthy eggs. In other spiders, the female may remain with her eggs to become the hatchlings’ first meal. I don’t think these can be described as ‘suicide’ exactly. It is more the ultimate means of ensuring that the ultimate goal is reached; that of passing on the genes.

I don’t think ‘suicide’, as we understand it, is an option for any animal. Survival and the passing on of the individual’s genes are the greatest driving force, suicide would not just be in conflict with these instincts, but wholly contrary to them.

An old or sick animal may appear to ‘give in’ to the inevitable, but I still don’t think this could be described as ‘suicide’, but more a case of the animal being unable to do anything about it due to weakness or pain.
 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Re: Will its longevity eventually make a tortoise suicidal?
« Reply #3 on: 27/07/2012 13:33:01 »
With that said, could you say that emotions are a negative thing we've developed? From a purely 'passing on our genes is all the matters' standpoint, of course.

Almost makes me glad the world is so unfair of late. Really makes you numb to everything... No, that's a terrible thing to say.

Oop--there's that darn 'regret' emotion making me go back on my cynicism again >:C
 

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Re: Will its longevity eventually make a tortoise suicidal?
« Reply #3 on: 27/07/2012 13:33:01 »

 

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