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Jun 24, 2022

Secrets of aging revealed in largest study on longevity, aging in reptiles and amphibians

Posted by in categories: biological, life extension

At 190 years old, Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise recently made news for being the “oldest living land animal in the world.” Although, anecdotal evidence like this exists that some species of turtles and other ectotherms—or ‘cold-blooded’ animals—live a long time, evidence is spotty and mostly focused on animals living in zoos or a few individuals living in the wild. Now, an international team of 114 scientists, led by Penn State and Northeastern Illinois University, reports the most comprehensive study of aging and longevity to date comprising data collected in the wild from 107 populations of 77 species of reptiles and amphibians worldwide.

Among their many findings, which they report today in the journal Science, the researchers documented for the first time that , crocodilians and salamanders have particularly low aging rates and extended lifespans for their sizes. The team also found that protective phenotypes, such as the hard shells of most turtle species, contribute to slower aging, and in some cases even ‘negligible aging’—or lack of biological aging.

“Anecdotal evidence exists that some reptiles and amphibians age slowly and have long lifespans, but until now no one has actually studied this on a large scale across numerous species in the wild,” said David Miller, senior author and associate professor of wildlife population ecology, Penn State. “If we can understand what allows some animals to age more slowly, we can better understand aging in humans, and we can also inform conservation strategies for reptiles and amphibians, many of which are threatened or endangered.”

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