The New York Times, December 8, 2023
Why do we grow old and die?
In the 19th century, the German biologist August Weismann argued that the machinery of life inevitably wore out with time. Death had evolved “for the need of the species,” he declared. It cleared away weak, old individuals so they wouldn’t compete with young ones.
That explanation never made sense to George Williams, an American evolutionary biologist. Natural selection acts only on the genes that are passed down from one generation to the next. What happens at the end of an animal’s life can have no effect on the course of evolution.