NIH-Funded Study Reveals Evolutionary Tricks Tied to Health Longevity

June 29, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
NIH-Funded Study Reveals Evolutionary Tricks Tied to Health Longevity
A turtle crawls through the mud in Stone Harbor, N.J., Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

National Institutes of Health-funded research released on June 23 offers new insights into why aging rates vary when it comes to evolutionary tricks, such as having armor and venom.

The research was led by Ronald Kohanski, who serves as a director of the National Institute on Aging at the NIH, and Manuel Moro, a NIA Health Scientist administrator.

To conduct the study, which was published in Science, the two researchers examined more than 100 different animals. They found that cold-blooded, four-legged animals known as ectothermic tetrapods, including turtles and salamanders, can age very quickly or extremely slowly.


These animals rely on heat from their environment to regulate their body temperature. Scientists found they have significantly low aging rates and, for their size, live long lives ranging from one to 137 years. 


The study offers new evolutionary insights that aging rates decrease in species with slow-paced lives. Slower aging rates are also found in animals with protective traits, such as armor, venom, shells and spines. 


With the finding that ectothermic animals have a higher diversity of aging rates, researchers hope to better understand aging in humans. 

Alexa can be reached at [email protected]

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