In 2006, when a 507 year old mollusc was found, it raised questions as to how long do some species live?

Last summer, a Greenland shark was estimated to have lived for about 392 years, which considered it to be the “longest-lived vertebrate.” Also, the record for the oldest mammalian was a bowhead whale estimated to reach 211 years old. These discoveries are interesting, especially for humans that can rarely reach 100 years old. One speculation as to why and how these animals reach these milestones is due to very low oxygen consumption, proposed by Max Rubner followed by Raymond Pearl and then by Denham Harman in 1954. Harman supported Pearl’s research of “The Rate of Living,” but this theory has ultimately been ignored.

Decades later in 2005, John Speakman conducted research to investigate the rate of living theory. What Speakman discovered was that previous scientists were right about a connection between the consumption of oxygen and animals. However, the connection is the opposite of the rate of living theory and excludes the size of animals like Rubner and Harman believed. Therefore, animals that have higher metabolic rates live longer; the theory that the more oxygen an animal consumes the greater the production of free radicals, which cause damage and speed the ageing process is outdated.

Studies have also been conducted to determine if the size of animals really effects lifespan. What Joao Pedro Magalhaes discovered is that the lifespan of animals is due to evolutionary and ecological factors, which body size is related to. Therefore, smaller animals are prey that have to grow and reproduce at a faster rate than larger animals to pass on their genes. Research is still being conducted on different species to determine what factors contribute to long life spans. One thing is certain, there unfortunately is no wrinkle cream or fountain of youth that prevents ageing or prolongs the lifespan of animals or humans.

 

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