Contemplating the Olm

From LiveScience: "Blind salamanders once thought to be baby dragons can live at least as long as most people, scientists now find. Adults of this species live nearly 69 years on average, with a predicted maximum age of more than 100 years, three times longer than related species Surprisingly, the long-lived amphibian doesn't seem to have an especially low metabolism nor unusual levels of protective antioxidant molecules to explain why it lives so long. As such, this salamander could help uncover mechanisms that could help keep us young. The olm or proteus (Proteus anguinus) lives in the limestone caves of southern Europe. ... Zoologists have been intrigued by the olm for centuries because of its longevity, as it often lives more than 70 years in zoos. The salamander's longevity is especially unusual given its tiny size. ... So why might the olm have such an outstanding life span? It might live a long time by not living very much at all. ... Although the olm does not have a remarkably low metabolic rate, it is extremely inactive during its life." Examining animals that are long-lived in comparison to similar species may give more of an insight in the biology of aging. Studies of naked mole-rats are proving fruitful, for example.



I think things like this are one good reason why we need laws and efforts to protect the various species on the planet, many of which are in danger of going extinct. Who knows, studying some little mammal in the rain forest could end up giving us the key to slowing or reversing aspects of the aging process.

Posted by: Kim at February 9th, 2011 6:03 PM

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