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Why do we live longer than other mammals ?


Posted on Thursday, 16 January, 2014 | Comment icon 23 comments

Chimps and humans live much longer than most mammals. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Thomas Lersch
Scientists believe that our slow metabolic rate is the key to explaining our relative longevity.
According to a new study, humans and other primates such as chimpanzees burn calories at a rate that is only half that of other mammals. This fact is believed to explain why we live a lot longer and grow up more slowly.

Researchers used a special technique to measure the daily energy expenditure of primates both in captivity and in the wild over a ten day period. The findings showed that both expended the same amount of energy, suggesting that the level of physical activity is not as intrinsically linked to daily energy expenditure as previously thought.

"Humans , chimpanzees, baboons, and other primates expend only half the calories we'd expect for a mammal," said anthropologist Herman Pontzer who lead the study. "To put that in perspective, a human - even someone with a very physically active lifestyle - would need to run a marathon each day just to approach the average daily energy expenditure of a mammal their size."

Source: Zee News | Comments (23)

Tags: Human, Primate, Mammal

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by coolguy on 17 January, 2014, 5:40
We live longer because we have doctors and medinces and we pretty much stay safe
Comment icon #15 Posted by Frank Merton on 17 January, 2014, 5:42
Take away predation and disease and natural selection will select for longer living. The reason natural selection doesn't normally do that is because there is no point if the animal is virtually certain to die young anyway. Better in such a case to select for rapid maturity and lotsa babies.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Leonardo on 17 January, 2014, 14:47
The researchers are not comparing other mammal species against our natural lifespan, but against our artificial lifespan - brought about by the invention of medicine, various technologies, social changes and fortified foods, not by "reduced calorie intake/expenditure compared to other mammals". Go back only 4 or 5 hundred years and the lifespan of the average human was more on the order of 40 years or so, and had been that length of time for centuries before that. When placed in a like environment to other mammals, with no technology, natural foods having to be gained from hunting/gathering - ... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Frank Merton on 17 January, 2014, 14:52
Leonardo your point is obvious enough but I don't see any relevance.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Leonardo on 17 January, 2014, 15:20
Leonardo your point is obvious enough but I don't see any relevance. The study examined the calorific requirements of various mammalian species, including primates. It concluded that, if we were to build a graph comparing size of organism vs lifespan, primates would be outliers due to their lower calorific requirements. Which is fine, when considering the natural lifespans of mammalian species. Which, for humans, appears to be somewhere on the order of 40-50 years, maybe even a little less. We do not live to 70 - 80 years old because of this lower calorific requirement, and lumping humans in w... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by Sunshine Hoosier on 18 January, 2014, 3:01
I remember cousin saying something along the lines that mammals have around the same number of heart beats during a lifetime. Seems like it would be hard to test. I think the extreme size differences in mammals would be a big factor in that idea.
Comment icon #20 Posted by EllJay on 18 January, 2014, 3:35
I find it strange that we die at all, unless it is of an disease or accident. We regenerate most things in our body, except severed limbs. Also I found it strange that the human body isn't bigger than it is. But perhaps the human body needs some million years before we become bigger, like the dinosaurs. That is, if we can manage to survive and not go extinct before that.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Ryu on 20 January, 2014, 14:24
I find it strange that we die at all, unless it is of an disease or accident. We regenerate most things in our body, except severed limbs. So can most animals yet they all die just the same. All life dies eventually, immortality is a childish fantasy. We are not special, we are biological beings, our cells can last and replicate for only so long before they too tire and the whole of the entity collapses. Our bodies are a size that is sustainable for us and are apparently influenced by our environment. As for dinosaurs, I recall reading that most of them were not huge but probably the sizes of ... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Frank Merton on 20 January, 2014, 14:33
Probably we die because the genetic machinery slowly accumulates errors as we repair ourselves and reproduce worn out cells. The fact that the vast majority of animals die before their natural time from predation or accident or disease removes any reason for natural selection to tackle this phenomenon except in the genome, and even here errors happen, often leading to species extinction. It makes sense if the above is true that slower metabolism would make for longer lives -- less damage and repair and so on. So to live a long life I guess we should look for ways to slow the metabolism. It wor... [More]
Comment icon #23 Posted by EllJay on 20 January, 2014, 18:17
So can most animals yet they all die just the same. All life dies eventually, immortality is a childish fantasy. We are not special, we are biological beings, our cells can last and replicate for only so long before they too tire and the whole of the entity collapses. In 1786, average life expectancy was just 24 years. A hundred years later (1886) it doubled to 48. Right now a newborn can expect to live an average of 76 years. With recent discoveries in biology, many scientists predict that life expectancy will continue to triple-digits. In fact, if they are correct, humans shouldn't have to d... [More]


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