[extropy-chat] Bowhead Whales May be the World's Oldest Mammals

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Wed Mar 28 05:14:07 UTC 2007

At 02:51 PM 3/28/2007 +1000, Stathis wrote:

>Average life span in humans in poorer countries is shorter than in 
>wealthier countries due to a higher prevalence of and greater 
>susceptibility to infectious disease, but maximum life span is not 
>that different. The degenerative diseases of aging are not generally 
>thought to be due to infectious agents.

Of course (although I wouldn't rule out *some* degenerative diseases 
being due to an unavoidable accumulation of infection insults; cf. 
heart diseases and bacteria). I'm hinting at something a bit more 
subtle. Some birdies live very much longer than ground critters that 
are metabolically very similar. The usual explanation is that the 
lack of lots of natural aerial predators for these birdies allows 
genetic drift, mutation, etc to extend their longevity, since 
antagonistic pleiotropy is not pushing the value of adaptations that 
are not usually injurious due to natural early mortality from 
predation, intraspecific sex-contest injury, or infection. My thought 
was that perhaps whales might benefit from some such effect, but on a 
microscale. Of course, this would be true on a macroscale as well, as 
with elephants. Or maybe it's just a fluke. (Sorry.)

Damien Broderick

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list