We humans are unusually long-lived for our size, as compared to other mammals. This is particularly noticeable in comparison to our nearest primate relatives. Since our exceptional longevity among primates arose only comparatively recently in evolutionary time, coincident with intelligence, culture, and modernity, it is thought feasible to identify genetic changes likely involved in this process. That effort proceeds in tandem with more theoretical considerations regarding how it is that natural selection produced this gain in species life span, such as the Grandmother hypothesis, and the two lines of work can inform one another as they progress.
Aging is a complex process affecting different species and individuals in different ways. Comparing genetic variation across species with their aging phenotypes will help understanding the molecular basis of aging and longevity. Although most studies on aging have so far focused on short-lived model organisms, recent comparisons of genomic, transcriptomic, and metabolomic data across lineages with different lifespans are unveiling molecular signatures associated with longevity. Here, we examine the relationship between genomic variation and maximum lifespan across primate species.
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