Did dinosaurs affect human lifespan?

The author of this concept is Professor João Pedro de Magalhães from the University of Birmingham. He called it the longevity bottleneck hypothesis. This hypothesis, detailed in the journal BioEssays (DOI: 10.1002/bies.202300098), links the role that dinosaurs played for more than 100 million years to the aging process of mammals.

It’s all because of dinosaurs

The concept can be summarized in a few sentences. When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, smaller mammals had to be able to reproduce quickly in order to survive. Therefore, genes ensuring longer lifespan were lost or inactivated as evolution progressed.

“Some of the first mammals were forced to live at the bottom of the food chain and spent millions of years during the age of dinosaurs, evolving to survive through rapid reproduction,” says de Magalhaes. “I think this long period of evolutionary pressure has an impact on the way we age,” he asserts.

According to the author, this hypothesis may shed more light on the evolutionary forces that have shaped mammalian aging processes for millions of years. Although humans live relatively long lives compared to other species, there are many reptiles and other animals whose aging processes are much slower. These species show minimal signs of aging throughout their lives.

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