Evolution of Longevity and Survival Characteristics in Mammals

  • George A. Sacher


The comparative analysis of aging patterns in mammals is at present in a highly fragmented state, because the data now available were gathered by investigators from various disciplines for various purposes, and are not all equally suitable for the purposes of this survey. Nevertheless, it is possible to discern evidence of a consistent pattern of longevity and aging in the class Mammalia. This brief review will examine this pattern, although the paucity of data in some areas limits the discussion to a semiquantitative examination of the possibilities.


Survival Characteristic Life Table Brain Size Brain Weight Senescence Gene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersen, A. C. (ed.), 1970, General pathology, in: The Beagle as an Experimental Dog, pp. 520–546, Iowa State University Press, Ames.Google Scholar
  2. Andersen, A. C., and Rosenblatt, L. S., 1974, Survival of beagles under natural and laboratory conditions, in: Dogs and Other Large Mammals in Aging Research: I (A. C. Andersen, E. A. Boyden, and J. H. Dougherty, eds.), pp. 18–23, MSS Information Corp., New York.Google Scholar
  3. Asdell, S. A., 1964, Patterns of Mammalian Reproduction, 2nd Ed., Cornell University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Barkalow, F. S., Jr., Hamilton, R. B., and Soots, R. F., Jr., 1970, The vital statistics of an unexploited gray squirrel population, J. Wildl. Manage. 34: 489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bendell, J. F., 1959, Food as a control of a population of white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus noveboracensis (Fischer), Can. J. Zool. 37: 173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blair, W. F., 1948, Population density, life span and mortality rates of small mammals in the blue-grass meadow and blue-grass field association of Southern Michigan, Am. Midl. Nat. 49:395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blus, L. J., 1971, Reproduction and survival of short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda) in captivity, Lab. Anim. Sci. 21:884.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bourlière, F., 1959, Lifespans of mammalian and bird populations in nature, in: Ciba Found. Colloq. Ageing (G. E. W. Wolstenholme and M. O’Connor, eds.), Vol. 5, The Lifespan of Animals, pp. 99–103, Churchill, London.Google Scholar
  9. Bourlière, F., 1964, The Natural History of Mammals, 3rd Ed., Knopf, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Brody, S., 1945, Bioenergetics and Growth, Reinhold, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Caughley, G., 1966, Mortality patterns in mammals, Ecology 47:906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cole, L. C., 1954, The population consequences of life history phenomena, Q. Rev. Biol. 29:103.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Comfort, A., 1956, Longevity and mortality of Irish wolfhounds, Proc. Zool. Soc. London 127:27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Comfort, A., 1957, Survival curves of mammals in captivity, Proc. Zool. Soc. London 128:349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Comfort, A., 1958a, The longevity and mortality of thoroughbred mares, J. Gerontol. 13:342.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Comfort, A., 1958b, Coat color and longevity in thoroughbred mares, Nature (London) 182: 1531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Comfort, A., 1959a, The longevity and mortality of thoroughbred stallions, J. Gerontol. 14: 9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Comfort, A., 1959b, Studies on the longevity and mortality of English thoroughbred horses, in: Ciba Found. Colloq. Ageing (G. E. W. Wolstenholme and M. O’Connor, eds.), Vol. 5, The Lifespan of Animals, pp. 35–54, Churchill, London.Google Scholar
  19. Comfort, A., 1960, Longevity and mortality in dogs of four breeds, J. Gerontol. 15:126.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Comfort, A., 1961, A life table for Arabian mares, J. Gerontol. 17:14.Google Scholar
  21. Cutler, R. G., 1975, Evolution of human longevity and the genetic complexity governing aging rate, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 72:4664.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Deevey, E. S., Jr., 1947, Life tables for natural populations of animals, Q. Rev. Biol. 22:283.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. De Leo, P., and Sacher, J. A., 1970, Control of ribonuclease and acid phosphatase by auxin and abscisic acid during senescence of Rhoeo leaf sections, Plant Physiol. 46:806.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dublin, L. I., Lotka, A. J., and Spiegelman, M., 1949, Length of Life, Rev. Ed., Ronald Press, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Gompertz, B., 1825, On the nature of the function expressive of the law of human mortality and on a new mode of determining life contingencies, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London 1825:513.Google Scholar
  26. Gould, S. J., 1966, Allometry and size in ontogeny and phylogeny, Biol. Rev. Cambridge Philos. Soc. 41:587.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Haldane, J. B. S., 1954, The calculation of mortality rates from ringing data, Acta XI Congr. Ornithol, Basel 1954:454.Google Scholar
  28. Hamilton, W. D., 1966, The moulding of senescence by natural selection, J. Theor. Biol. 12:12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hart, R. W., and Setlow, R. B., 1974, Correlation between deoxyribonucleic acid excisionrepair and life-span in a number of mammalian species, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 71:2169.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hewer, H. R., 1963, The determination of age, sexual maturity, longevity and a life-table in the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus), Proc. Zool. Soc. London 142:593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jerison, H. J., 1973, Evolution of the Brain and Intelligence, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Jolly, G. M., 1965, Explicit estimates from capture-recapture data with both death and immigration: Stochastic model, Biometrika 52:225.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Laws, R. M., 1961, Reproduction, growth and age of southern fin whales, Discovery Rep. 31:327.Google Scholar
  34. Laws, R. M., 1967a, Eye lens weight and age in African elephants, East Afr. Wildi J. 5: 46.Google Scholar
  35. Laws, R. M., 1967b, Occurrence of placental scars in the uterus of African elephant (Loxodonta africana), J. Reprod. Fertil. 14:445.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Laws, R. M., 1968, Dentition and ageing of the hippopotamus, East Afr. Wildl. J. 6:19.Google Scholar
  37. Laws, R. M., and Parker, I. S. C., 1968, Recent studies on elephant populations in East Africa, Symp. Zool. Soc. London 21:319.Google Scholar
  38. Leopold, A. C., 1961, Senescence in plant development, Science 134:1727.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mallouk, R. S., 1975, Longevity in vertebrates is proportional to relative brain weight, Fed. Proc. Fed. Am. Soc. Exp. Biol. 34:2102.Google Scholar
  40. Manville, R. H., 1949, A Study of Small Mammal Populations in Northern Michigan, Miscellaneous Publication No. 73, 83 pp., Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  41. Martin, G. M., 1977, Genetic disorders in man with relevance to aging, in: Genetic Effects on Aging (D. Bergsma and D. E. Harrison, eds.), pp. 7–42, A. R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  42. McKusick, V. A., 1975, Mendelian Inheritance in Man, 4th Ed., Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  43. Medawar, P. B., 1957, Old age and natural death, and An unsolved problem of biology, in: The Uniqueness of the Individual, Methuen and Co., London.Google Scholar
  44. Norris, W. P., Tyler, S. A., and Sacher, G. A., 1976, An interspecies comparison of responses of mice and dogs to continuous 60Co gamma irradiation, in: Biological and Environmental Effects of Low-Level Radiation, Vol. 1, pp. 147–155, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.Google Scholar
  45. Perry, A., 1965, Population analysis of the guano bat Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana (Saussure) using the lens-weight method of age determination, Ph.D. dissertation, Oklahoma State University of Agriculture and Applied Science, Stillwater.Google Scholar
  46. Rensch, B., 1959, Evolution Above the Species Level, Methuen and Co., London.Google Scholar
  47. Sacher, G. A., 1959, Relation of lifespan to brain weight and body weight in mammals, in: Ciba Foundation Colloquia on Ageing (G. E. W. Wolstenholme and M. O’Connor, eds.), Vol. 5, The Lifespan of Animals pp. 115–133, Churchill, London.Google Scholar
  48. Sacher, G. A., 1960, Problems in the extrapolation of long term effects from animals to man, in: The Delayed Effects of Whole-Body Radiation (B. B. Watson, ed.), pp. 3–10, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  49. Sacher, G. A., 1966a, Abnutzungstheorie, in: Perspectives in Experimental Gerontology (N. W. Shock, ed.), pp. 326–335, Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois.Google Scholar
  50. Sacher, G. A., 1966b, The Gompertz transformation in the study of injury-mortality relationship: Application to late radiation effects and ageing, in: Radiation and Ageing: Proceedings of a Colloquium Held in Semmering, Austria, June 1966 (P. J. Lindop and G. A. Sacher, eds.), pp. 411–441, Taylor and Francis, London.Google Scholar
  51. Sacher, G. A., 1968, Molecular versus systemic theories on the genesis of ageing, Exp. Gerontol. 3:265.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sacher, G. A., 1975, Maturation and longevity in relation to cranial capacity in hominid evolution, in: Antecedents of Man and After, Vol. I, Primates: Functional Morphology and Evolution (R. Tuttle, ed.), pp. 417–441, Mouton and Co., The Hague.Google Scholar
  53. Sacher, G. A., 1976, Evaluation of the entropy and information terms governing mammalian longevity, Interdiscip. Top. Gerontol. 9:69.Google Scholar
  54. Sacher, G. A., 1977, Life table modification and life prolongation, in: Handbook of the Biology of Aging (C. E. Finch and L. Hayflick, eds.), pp. 582–638, Van Nostrand-Reinhold, New York.Google Scholar
  55. Sacher, G. A., and Hart, R. W., 1977, Longevity, aging and comparative cellular and molecular biology of the house mouse, Mus musculus, and the white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus, in: Genetic Effects on Aging (D. H. Harrison, ed.), pp. 73–98, A. R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  56. Sacher, G. A., and Jones, M. L., 1972, Life span: Mammalia, in: Biology Data Book (P. L. Altman and D. S. Dittmer, eds.), 2nd Ed., Vol. 1, pp. 229–230, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Bethesda, Maryland.Google Scholar
  57. Sacher, G. A., and Staffeldt, E., 1972, Life tables of seven species of laboratory-reared rodents, Gerontologist 12(3)(Part III):39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sacher, G. A., and Staffeldt, E. F., 1974, Relation of gestation time to brain weight for placental mammals: Implications for the theory of vertebrate growth, Am. Nat. 108:593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sacher, J. A., 1967, Control of synthesis of RNA and protein in subcellular fractions of Rhoeo discolor leaf sections by auxin and kinetin during senescence, Exp. Gerontol. 2:261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sacher, J. A., 1973, Senescence and postharvest physiology, Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. 24:197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sergeant, D. E., 1962, The biology of the pilot or pothead whale Globicephala melaena (Traill) in Newfoundland waters, Bulletin No. 132, pp. vii + 84, Fisheries Research Board, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
  62. Simpson, G. G., 1945, The principles of classification and a classification of mammals, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 85: xvi + 350.Google Scholar
  63. Snyder, D. P., 1956, Survival Rates, Longevity and Population Fluctuations in the White-Footed Mouse, Peromyscus leucopus, in Southeastern Michigan, Miscellaneous Publication No. 95, pp. 1-33, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Spinage, C. A., 1972, African ungulate life tables, Ecology 53:645.Google Scholar
  64. Stickel, L. F., and Warbach, O., 1960, Small-mammal populations of a Maryland woodlot, Ecology 41:269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tryon, C. A., and Snyder, D. P., 1973, Biology of the eastern chipmunk, Tamias striatus: Life tables, age distribution, and trends in population numbers, J. Mammal. 54:145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Watson, J. D., 1976, Molecular Biology of the Gene, 3rd Ed., W. A. Benjamin, New York.Google Scholar
  67. Weismann, A., 1882, Über die Dauer des Lebens, G. Fischer, Jena.Google Scholar
  68. Weismann, A., 1891, Essays upon Heredity and Kindred Biological Problems, Oxford University Press, London.Google Scholar
  69. Williams, G. C., 1957, Pleiotropy, natural selection, and the evolution of senescence, Evolution 11:398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wood, A. E., 1955, A revised classification of rodents, J. Mammal. 36:165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Woolhouse, H. W., 1974, Longevity and senescence in plants, Sci. Prog. (Oxford) 61:123.Google Scholar
  72. WPA, 1940, Tables of Sine, Cosine and Exponential Integrals, Vols. 1 and 2, Works Projects Administration, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • George A. Sacher
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological and Medical ResearchArgonne National LaboratoryArgonneUSA

Personalised recommendations