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Study finds primates age gracefully
Date:3/10/2011

ience sources of mortality from which humans may be protected," the authors write in Science.

The results also confirm a pattern observed in humans and elsewhere in the animal kingdom: as males age, they die sooner than their female counterparts. In primates, the mortality gap between males and females is narrowest for the species with the least amount of male-male aggression--a monkey called the muriqui--the researchers report.

"Muriquis are the only species in our sample in which males do not compete overtly with one another for access to mates," said co-author Karen Strier, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin who has studied muriquis since 1982. The results suggest the reason why males of other species die faster than females may be the stress and strain of competition, the authors say.

Modern medicine is helping humans live longer than ever before, the researchers note. "Yet we still don't know what governs maximum life span," Alberts said. She is also the associate director of the NSF-funded National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C.

"Some human studies suggest we might be able to live a lot longer than we do now," she said. "Looking to other primates to understand where we are and aren't flexible in our aging will help answer that question."


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Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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