Scientists develop resource to study animal aging

February 17, 2009

A database detailing the life history of more than 4,000 animal species has been developed by scientists at the University of Liverpool for study in areas such as ageing, evolution and conservation.

The online resource, which is the most extensive and complete record of animal longevity, details the maximum and average lifespan of an animal, its weight, age of sexual maturity, litter size and other life history traits. It can be used to examine why different species age at different rates in order to further understanding of the mechanisms of ageing. The database will also be a reference for scientists investigating whether populations of particular animals could survive after their numbers have been depleted by human activities.

The resource, which can be accessed by both members of the public and researchers, will help experts study how the lifespan of a species can be influenced by the way in which it adapts to its environment. It features some of the world's most unusual creatures, such as the naked mole-rat - a small burrowing rodent, native to parts of East Africa, that has been subject to many biological studies due to its ability to survive for as long as 30 years in harsh environmental conditions.

Dr Joao Pedro Magalhaes, from the University's School of Biological Sciences, explains: "The naked mole-rat is a good example of how complex the mechanisms of ageing are. The assumption is that the bigger an animal is, the longer it lives, yet the mole-rat is about the size of a mouse and can live for almost three decades.

"Our resource can help supply a rounded picture of an animal's life so that we can consider all aspects of how an animal survives, from its environment to its litter size, when investigating the ageing process and how it is shaped by evolution.

"A good example of how our resource can help us maintain animal populations is the issue of over-fishing, whereby fish stocks are being depleted beyond recovery. Researchers will be able to use the resource to identify the age at which an animal matures and their expected lifespan to determine which populations are not producing enough newborns to replace those that have died."

More information: Details of the resource, called AnAge, are published in Aging Cell. The database can be found at:

Source: University of Liverpool

Explore further: The current state of psychobiotics

Related Stories

The current state of psychobiotics

October 25, 2016

Now that we know that gut bacteria can speak to the brain—in ways that affect our mood, our appetite, and even our circadian rhythms—the next challenge for scientists is to control this communication. The science of psychobiotics, ...

Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk

October 20, 2016

A new study published in The Cryosphere, an European Geosciences Union journal, has found that Bolivian glaciers shrunk by 43% between 1986 and 2014, and will continue to diminish if temperatures in the region continue to ...

First dinosaur bones found in Denali National Park

October 18, 2016

Paleontologists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the National Park Service found the first dinosaur bones in Denali National Park during an expedition in July. They also discovered several new dinosaur trackways, ...

The Brazilian titan

October 18, 2016

Sometimes the greatest dinosaur discoveries are just lying waiting to be found in a museum cupboard.

Russia holds key to Antarctic marine sanctuaries

October 17, 2016

Talks opened in Australia on Monday to create two vast marine sanctuaries aimed at protecting the pristine wilderness of Antarctica with Russia and China key to whether they succeed.

Recommended for you


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.