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Wild female mammals live longer too

By 25 mars 2020 mai 31st, 2020 No Comments

Average lifespans are longer for women than for men and nine out of ten supercentenarians— that is, people 110 years and older —are women. But what about wild mammals? A team led by Jean-François Lemaître, CNRS researcher at the Biometry and Evolutionary Biology Laboratory (CNRS / Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University / VetAgro Sup), have now compiled demographic data for 134 populations of 101 mammalian species—from bats to lions and orcas to gorillas—making their study the widest reaching and most precise to date.

They found that in 60% of the cases, female mammals live longer than males: 18.6% longer on average (versus only 7.8% longer in humans). Is this because male mortality rates increase faster with age? Not necessarily, according to Lemaître’s team: for about half of the populations studied, the rise in mortality with age is even more pronounced among female mammals. However, mortality risk is lower among females at all ages.


Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) in the Año Nuevo colony (California, USA). Here a male surrounded by his harem is emitting a cry to mark his territory. Elephant seals are one of the species in which females outlive males. © Isabelle CHARRIER / Neuro-PSI / CNRS Photothèque

Source: CNRS

Reference: Sex differences in adult lifespan and aging rates of mortality across wild mammals. Jean-François Lemaître, Victor Ronget, Morgane Tidière, Dominique Allainé, Vérane Berger, Aurélie Cohas, Fernando Colchero, Dalia Conde, Michael Garratt, András Liker, Gabriel A. B. Marais, Alexander Scheuerlein, Tamás Székely, Jean-Michel Gaillard. PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1911999117