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My pea vines have died. Despite getting the same water and sunshine as the rest of the garden, they seemed to know, somehow, that they had accomplished their mission. Now it was time to go to The Great Compost Bin in the Corner.
Like salmon, they produce their next generation, and then give up living.
All living things seem to recognize when their time is running out. Pea vines live less than one full summer; some trees will live thousands of years. But they all die, eventually.
And so, interestingly, do their individual cells. Cells have their own life spans. Human skin cells die every few days. So do the cells in the toxic environment of your digestive system. Sperm cells survive only a few hours.
Indeed, without cell death, we wouldn’t be human. A human fetus has webs between its fingers and toes -- a throwback, perhaps, to our amphibian ancestors -- and those web cells must die so that an infant can be born with recognizably human hands and feet.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: apoptosis, genes, bel-2, overpopulation