Evolution of 'longevity'
ODONNELL at ARCB.AFRC.AC.UK
Thu May 7 11:42:00 EST 1992
Goody - someone mentioned the evolution of longevity, now I can post this:
How did longevity evolve in humans, or indeed any species?
Some speculation on the evolution of longevity:
I have wondered if it is anything to do with a situation observed in some
poorer agricultural societies (eg: Ireland, it has happened in my own family):
men inherit land from their fathers, often having to wait for their fathers
to die before acheiving control of resources. Only with such resources can
the men afford to raise a family. (NB: big assumptions made here :-) and
don't forget cultural biases)
This would select for longevity, with the paradox that it might only work
like this in alternating generations. I wonder if there are any animal
The neotenic theory is quite atractive here: a long development time for
human children leading to selection for longevity. How do you break out
of the tautology?
Or - is longevity more a side effect of some other requirement?
NB: It has been observed that those organisms with the highest cellular
DNA content are the longest lived (with the inevitable exceptions).
But - this could be just the end result of evolution, rather than the
driving force of longevity.
I am happy for anyone to tell me that I am writing bunkum, if they can
provide a convincing case :-)
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