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Fruit flies take death lying down.
September 12, 2002 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Fruit flies take death lying down. Some scientist somewhere noticed an interesting death habit, if you will, in fruit flies. One day they flop over upside down, and stay there, until they die - almost always ~14 days later. The live approximately 60 days. The point? They believe that something naturally triggers the onset of death and dying. Interesting.
posted by JessicaRose (12 comments total)

 
But he thinks he and his researchers have stumbled upon something that could prove vitally important in the study of aging, even human aging.

I know what makes me stumble. So maybe they have eaten aged fruit which has turned to fruit wine, hiccup.
And we do know how alcohol will factor in your life by making your body age faster.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:12 PM on September 12, 2002


If they're Italian fruit flies that eat a lot of red wine and fish, maybe they'd live longer, though.

And the fruit flies that I know lie flat on their back until I sponge them into the in-sink-erator.

The idea of physical markers for aging isn't really new -- there's a lot of similar markers for adolescence and adulthood, after all. (Why do we get precisely two sets of teeth?) But this is important evidence for them.
posted by dhartung at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2002


I guess this explains why my grandma knew that she was going to die the day that she did. But do you already know, or just decide you don't want to fight to live anymore?
posted by damclean2 at 12:22 PM on September 12, 2002


They believe that something naturally triggers the onset of death and dying.

"They" the scientist or "they" the fruitflies?
posted by dfowler at 12:25 PM on September 12, 2002


Weird. Just yesterday I was dining in a restaurant with my daughter when she noticed fruit fly floating in her coke. I offered to trade mine for hers. I took her glass, removed the fly with the tip of my finger and wiped it on the table cloth beside the glass. Several minutes later I glanced down and saw the now dry fly get up and begin walking around! This thing was a soggy lifeless speck.

It made me wonder if insects can "drown" or are they all able to cope with prolonged immersion in water somehow? Insects are the aliens of earth - fascinating creatures.
posted by davebush at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2002


Hrm, who ever would have thought to examine a flipped over fruit fly to see if it was dead?
posted by delmoi at 12:40 PM on September 12, 2002


O let me add, what gave me the thought above. One thing that makes me lifeless, having a hangover. Ouch, stop moving world, maybe I'll lay still and things will be better.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:47 PM on September 12, 2002


"Lo and behold, about 30 days into this, Nik observed some of these flies flat on their backs in a catatonic state, with their legs straight up like the classic Far Side dead bug," Carey says.

I find it both encouraging and inspiring that "the Far Side" has entered the accepted lexicon of biological science.
posted by yhbc at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2002


Ooooo, me too, yhbc. I was just rereading one of his collections yesterday and thinking about how much I miss him. Scientists everywhere have lost a little of their joi de vivre.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:03 PM on September 12, 2002


"Lo and behold, about 30 days into this, Nik observed some of these flies flat on their backs in a catatonic state, with their legs straight up like the classic Far Side dead bug," Carey says.

Maybe she's just waiting for someone to light her cigarette.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:44 PM on September 12, 2002


It made me wonder if insects can "drown"
davebush: as young lads we would drown houseflys until they no longer moved. pour on a little salt, wait, and watch it wake up, shake off and fly away. works every time.
posted by quonsar at 6:03 PM on September 12, 2002


and after consulting google, i see they likely were never actually dead.
posted by quonsar at 6:07 PM on September 12, 2002


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