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J Gerontol. 1991 Mar;46(2):B47-53.

Mammalian aging, metabolism, and ecology: evidence from the bats and marsupials.

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Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University.


This study compared trends in body size, life span, metabolic rate, and ecology of bats and marsupials with those from mammals generally, using a 580 species data base. The linear logarithmic relationship between mammalian body mass and maximum longevity, deleting bats and marsupials, is used as a standard against which to measure life spans of particular mammal groups. Bats have maximum life spans a minimum of 3 times those of nonflying eutherians--a trend resulting from neither low basal metabolic rate, the ability to enter torpor, nor large relative brain size. Marsupials live about 80% as long as nonflying eutherians despite averaging lower basal metabolic rates; similarly, there is no effect of heterothermy or relative brain size. These results directly conflict with predictions of both "rate of living" and brain-size mediated theories of aging. However, they are consistent with an evolutionary theory that posits exceptionally long life spans among mammals with reduced environmental vulnerability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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