In the largest study of its kind, scientists have discovered what keeps certain species from aging — possibly opening the door to longer lifespans for humans.
An international team, led by researchers from Penn State and Northeastern Illinois University, says they’ve unlocked the secrets of aging among reptiles and amphibians worldwide. Across 77 different species from around the globe, researchers found some with extremely long lifespans, lasting for more than a century. While some might think these animals are just sitting at the top of their respective food chains, the team found there’s more to it than that. Some of the creatures living on Earth simply aren’t aging at all!
Researchers say one of the prime examples is Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise. The ancient turtle recently became the “oldest living land animal in the world” after reaching the age of 190! Previous studies on ectotherms — or “cold-blooded” animals — have focused on animals living in closely monitored environments like a zoo. The new study collected data from 107 wild populations worldwide.
Those findings reveal that turtles, crocodilians, and salamanders all age particularly slowly and have exceptionally long lifespans for creatures of their size. Moreover, protective characteristics, like the hard shell of a turtle, actually contribute to biological aging almost stopping completely.