Why do some animals have longer life spans than others?


Why do some animals have longer life spans than others?

In: Biology


Some animals have genes that make them grow in ways that are just plain tasty. So they get eaten a lot.

The answer you are actually looking for:

Genetics. We don’t yet know the full mechanics of “why” aging occurs. We have observed certain things that happen as creatures age though. One of these processes is telomere shortening. Telomeres are basically an “end-cap” on chromosomes. As cells reproduce the offspring seem to have shorter and shorter telomere caps. This is one of the areas of interest behind aging. Some animals will maintain their telomeres longer than others. Or their cells may reproduce less often.

Evolutionary wise there is not really a huge advantage behind a longer life span. All that really matters is living long enough to reproduce. A longer span may allow an individual to reproduce more, but evolutionarily that is not really any different than the younger generations reproducing.

While this is still a heavily studied topic, there is a strong correlation to metabolic rate. Creatures with slower metabolisms (which tend to be larger organisms) typically live much longer.