In a study by Australian scientists, published in the journal Science Reports, it is reported that they have found a way to find out how long a certain kind of life clock will tick.
“Our method for estimating natural maximum life expectancy is based on DNA,” says Ben Mein, Research Fellow at CSIRO. "If we know the genome sequence of a species, we can estimate its lifespan."
We studied 42 selected genes from short pieces of DNA in 252 vertebrate species. The density of these genes correlates with lifespan, which makes it possible to predict how long a given vertebrate species might live.
“Until now, it has been difficult to estimate the lifespan of most wildlife, especially long-lived species of marine mammals and fish,” says Main.
When studying extinct animals, the researchers used their closest modern relatives as a reference. For example, the genome of the modern African elephant has made it possible to estimate the lifespan of an extinct woolly mammoth.
“Using our method, we found that the bowhead whale has a maximum lifespan of 268 years, which is 57 years longer than previously thought,” says Main.
"The extinct woolly mammoths lived 60 years, and the recently extinct giant tortoise from Pinta Island 120 years."
The researchers also looked at the human genome and found that our maximum natural lifespan is 38 years. This is in line with life expectancy estimates for early modern humans, before advances in medicine extended the life expectancy of people in many parts of the world.
Using the genes of chimpanzees, scientists found that the maximum life span of Neanderthals and Denisovans was 37.8 years.
It turned out to be impossible to establish the life span of invertebrates by the same method.
Maine believes that the genes selected in this study may further aid in the study of aging.