Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wild mouse lemurs live six times longer than similar-sized mammals

A new study has found that brown mouse lemurs in the wild can live to be up to at least eight years old, which is twice as long as other mammals of a similar size. They were also found to show signs of aging slower than captive grey mouse lemurs, which often display behavioural and neurological degeneration by the age of four, as well as developing grey hair and cataracts. 

“It’s surprising that these tiny, mouse-sized primates, living in a jungle full of predators that probably consider them a bite-sized snack, can live so long. And we found individuals up to eight years of age in the wild with no physical symptoms of senescence like some captive mouse lemurs start getting by the age of four,” commented biologist Sarah Zohdy, post-doctoral fellow in Emory’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Rollins School of Public Health. Zohdy, who conducted the research while at the University of Helsinki, led the study on the brown mouse lemurs in Madagascar. She notes that it is likely factors such as starvation, predation, disease may decrease the observed rate of degeneration (known as senescence) in the wild, but evidence suggests that captivity can adversely affect mental and physical function. 

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