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AFP
December 14, 2019

Scientists devise ‘lifespan clock’

World

AFP
December 14, 2019

PARIS: An Australian research team say they have come up with a "lifespan clock" which provides accurate maximum age estimates for vertebrates, a key variable in the study of both living and extinct animals.

The scientists identified specific areas -- called CpG sites -- in DNA which have been linked to lifespan and then checked them against existing databases of animal ages, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Research.

"Using 252 whole genomes and databases of animal age and promotor sequences, we show a pattern across vertebrates," they said. "We also derive a predictive lifespan clock... (which) accurately predicts maximum lifespan in vertebrates."

The scientists, led by Benjamin Mayne at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Western Australia, said their research appeared to be the first of its kind to build a "genetic predictive model to estimate the lifespan of vertebrate species from genetic markers."

The main aim was to look at "poorly understood and extinct species", for example the Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) which they established likely lived for about 60 years, compared with today’s African elephant at 65. The researchers also looked at two of man’s immediate predecessors -- Denisovans and Neanderthals.