Humans have been searching for the “Fountain of Youth” for generations. It’s no secret that everyone grows old, and aging is just a part of life.
Despite that, many people try to slow the aging process down by eating well, exercising, or trying innovative options like Botox and filler.
Our best efforts can’t prevent aging from taking place. At least, not right now. New research on cold-blooded species may change that in the future, though.
Two new studies published in the journal Science suggest that some cold-blooded creatures (certain reptiles and amphibians) barely age. We’ve known anecdotally for decades that turtles can live 100+ years, but there hasn’t been any concrete research on their aging process or how (or if) they age – until now.
One study conducted by researchers with Pennsylvania State University used data collected in the wild from 107 populations of 77 species of reptiles and amphibians worldwide. Researchers found that some species show minuscule signs of aging if any.
In a press release, study lead David Miller explained: “Anecdotal evidence exists that some reptiles and amphibians age slowly and have long lifespans, but until now no one has actually studied this on a large scale across numerous species in the wild.”
The study’s co-author and biologist, Beth Reinke, said in the press release that their research “found examples of negligible aging.”
What this means is that for those animals with negligible aging, aging doesn’t increase their risk of dying.
Knowing more about aging and how it affects species differently could be helpful across different fields, from medicine to conservation.
Miller added: “If we can understand what allows some animals to age more slowly, we can better understand aging in humans, and we can also inform conservation strategies for reptiles and amphibians, many of which are threatened or endangered.”
Some previously believed that aging was directly tied to metabolism, but the research on cold-blooded species doesn’t agree with that finding. In fact, a second study on the matter found that some reptiles and amphibisms showed “scant evidence of demographic senescence (increased mortality with age)” but metabolism didn’t correlate to their longer life spans.
The study did find that protective shells (like turtles have) and poison contained in the skin (like some frogs have) may be correlated to a longer lifespan. However, the increased lifespan is likely due to added shelter and protection from predators, rather than an innate ability to live longer.
Further research will need to be done on cold-blooded species and aging to learn more. It’s exciting to think about what scientists might discover with further studies!Whizzco