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In a particular DS9 episode, the Female Changeling tells Odo something along the lines of, "When you're a changeling, you're timeless."

Does this statement mean that changelings don't age, and cannot die of natural causes?

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They can obviously die of natural causes, since a disease is wiping them out in the last season of the show. If a disease, even an engineered one, can kill them, then they obviously aren't strictly immortal. The Changeling child Odo tries to raise also dies of natural causes. Practical immortality due to lack of ageing is a possibility though. –  James Sheridan Aug 10 at 3:27
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@JamesSheridan It's also possible that she simply meant all their memories and knowledge would be retained in the Great Link, if he ever returned –  Izkata Aug 10 at 6:00
    
I wouldn't consider death due to an engineered disease to be evidence of being able to die from "natural causes." –  user30592 Aug 11 at 13:27

1 Answer 1

"In a sense", to quote an expert. It depends how you look at it.

In DS9 "Behind the Lines" Odo gets some insights on the nature of the Changelinghood:

ODO: You haven't told me your name.

FOUNDER: What use would I have for a name?

ODO: To differentiate yourself from the others.

FOUNDER: I don't.

ODO: But you are a separate being, aren't you?

FOUNDER: In a sense.

ODO: When you return to the Link, what will happen to the entity I'm talking to right now?

FOUNDER: The drop becomes the ocean.

ODO: And if you choose to take solid form again?

FOUNDER: The ocean becomes a drop.

ODO: Ah, yes. I think I'm beginning to understand.

FOUNDER: Then you can answer your own question. How many of us are there?

ODO: One. And many. It depends on how you look at it.

So, in a sense, there is only one Founder: The great link. As long as it exists, all "drops" of individual Changelings, that constitutes this Uber-Founder, exist. So at least in that respect, Changelings are immortal.

In DS9 "Children of time", we learn that individual Changelings have a very great life-expectancy. In a colony founded by the crew of the crashed Defiant two hundred years ago (there is time-travel involved!), the descendants of the crew live alongside Odo, who is over 200 years old. He is not only still alive but seems to be in excellent shape.

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Including his time on DS9 before the time-travel episode, he's already at least 32 years old when the series starts (but definitely more, given he had to reach the place where he was found). Plus, 350-ish years is around when the Founders had expected him to return to the Great Link, putting a minimum on an individual Changeling's life expectancy –  Izkata Aug 10 at 16:01
    
@Izkata Excellent point. Honestly I haven't thought of that. Nonetheless we are not sure on how many years those pre-infants are meant to be drifting in space. If their unconscious travelling counts towards life-expectancy... I have no idea. Anyway: How come nobody gave me a +1 for a shapeshifter being in excellent shape? There was a pun intended! I'm sulking here! –  Einer Aug 10 at 16:09

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