Is falling apart inevitable as we get older? Not for tiny aquatic animals called hydra, says a team led by Duke University aging researcher James Vaupel. Unlike us, hydra continue to survive and reproduce well into old age, the researchers find. The results are part of an eight-year study of more than 2,000 individuals at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Hydra are closely related to sea anemones and jellyfish. They manage to keep their bodies young by replacing damaged or lost body parts every few weeks, so harmful mutations have little chance to build up, the researchers say.