1. lt.kizhe says

    That is kind of sad.

    It is the (probably unique) privilege/curse of humanity to know that all things must pass away — and yet to mourn that impermanence. Hence the appeal of promises of a blissful afterlife.

    I wish I could live to be that old.

    Only if I get to be reasonably healthy and able for most of it. I’ve spent the last six years watching my parents decline and die (Dad having gone three years ago, Mom about six weeks), at less than half of Harriet’s age, and have decided that quantity of life trades off against quality at a rate of 3:1 or better.

  2. ThePolynomial says

    Sad, indeed! I was lucky enough to meet Harriet on a trip down under last year, and she was a lovely lass…creeping toward her vegetables with abandon.

  3. saltyC says

    This is creepy. I can’t shake the feeling I heard this story already, like a couple weeks ago. Was there another story she was sick? Or is this deja vu?

  4. Grumpy says

    Thus passes the last lingering shred of evidence for Darwin’s discredited theory. Suddenly, I’m even finding it hard to believe that the Beagle ever existed, either! ;)

  5. PaulC says


    Thus passes the last lingering shred of evidence for Darwin’s discredited theory.

    Given Dembski’s maturity level, I expect him to tout this as a big win for ID.

  6. PaulC says

    “Every time Ann Coulter writes a book, God kills a tortoise. Please, think of the tortoises.”

  7. thwaite says

    Who knows? Perhaps they were intimate.

    … or even had intercourse (social, that is). The Victorians certainly used their new universal literacy to good effect, sustaining distinctions we elide.

    As for prolonging human lifespans – there’s some cautionary speculation. Remember “don’t trust anybody over 30”? George Bernard Shaw’s 1921 plays BACK TO METHUSELAH discussed the profound generation gap between 50-year olds and 250-year olds as each tries to understand the logic of their society (Shaw’s biology was flawed but his social analysis for this is still of interest – though I prefer Neal Stephenson’s less extreme discussion in THE DIAMOND AGE). And then there’s Aldous Husley’s AFTER MANY A SUMMER (1939), in which the neotenous ape (humans) is finally allowed to grow up. On a diet of raw fish intestines – hmm. More pertinently is that while growing out the neotenous stage does prolong life, it results in an adult morph much like modern orangutans. Hmm.

  8. SEF says

    In one of those odd coincidences, I’d just been reading last week about the 188-year-old tortoise – in the 2005 book of records which one of the sproglets had borrowed from the library. On attempting to look up that tortoise’s name just now, I came across:

    which contains the following, amusingly inept, phrasing:

    “However, the death of Adwaitya was remarkable. It was the first time it had happened in 250 years.”

    The death of anyone/anything is usually the first time it had happened for them – and it’s not as if they are expecting it to happen again for that particular tortoise either.

  9. John Emerson says

    Sexing turtles is very time-consuming. It’s a good thing they live so long, or they couldn’t breed at all.

  10. says

    Really, such a priceless creature is irreplaceable…
    And why on Earth did it take the British over a century to realize that she was a she?

  11. says

    Why did it take the British so long to realize she was a she? My dear fellow, this was Victorian England, we swathed the legs of our tables in cloth lest they cause lustful thoughts. Speculation on gender was just not done. Default position: it’s a bloke. BTW, got more evidence for the last known position of Beagle’s hull from the local school roll: some of the children give their address as Watch Vessel 7: the decommissioned Beagle’s name. As a send of maybe we should fill Harriet’s shell with concrete and drop it on Ann Coulter’s publishers from a great height.

  12. Graculus says

    Default position: it’s a bloke.

    It’s still the default, there’s a lot still hled in common with those repressed, patriarchal Victorians.

    Like the “repressed” and the “patriarchal”.

  13. Y.B says

    PZ wrote:

    “Who knows? Perhaps they were intimate.”

    Now now… don’t you know that as a godless evilutionist you’re supposed to treat Darwin like a holy prophet, and not blaspheme against him?

    *tsk tsk*

    Seriously, though, the news is quite sad. :( But living 176 years, and having been studied by Charles D., is pretty impressive, I must say.