Mammalian aging, metabolism, and ecology: Evidence from the bats and marsupials

Academic Article


  • This study compared trends in body size, life span, metabolic rate, and ecology of bats and marsupials with those from mammals generally, using a 580 species data base. The linear logarithmic relationship between mammalian body mass and maximum longevity, deleting bats and marsupials, is used as a standard against which to measure life spans of particular mammal groups. Bats have maximum life spans a minimum of 3 times those of nonflying eutherians - a trend resulting from neither low basal metabolic rate, the ability to enter torpor, nor large relative brain size. Marsupials live about 80% as long as nonflying eutherians despite averaging lower basal metabolic rates; similarly, there is no effect of heterothermy or relative brain size. These results directly conflict with predictions of both 'rate of living' and brain-size mediated theories of aging. However, they are consistent with an evolutionary theory that posits exceptionally long life spans among mammals with reduced environmental vulnerability.
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    Author List

  • Austad SN; Fischer KE
  • Volume

  • 46
  • Issue

  • 2