Live longer like a lizard?

A funny wee story about how plant-eating reptiles outlive meat-eating reptiles. 

“Our main predictors of longevity were herbivorous diets, colder climates, larger body sizes, and infrequent and later reproduction. To relate this to humans, imagine the physical stress the body of an Olympic gymnast experiences - and the first thing that disappears is her period. In reptiles, it also increases the probability of being preyed upon”
Professor Shai Meiri, Tel Aviv University, November 2014. 

This international research team, with scientists from the University of Lincoln, the US, Malaysia, Ecuador and the Middle East closely examined over 1,000 species of lizards and snakes, as a thorough representation of the 10,000+ known reptiles on earth. 

What they found was fascinating. 

The reptiles that lived the longest:

  • Had a plant-rich diet
  • Ate very little meat/insects
  • Lived a very slow pace of life
  • Experienced a later reproductive age/maturity
  • Had less offspring 

The reptiles that died the youngest:

  • Ate a protein-rich diet (leading to faster growth and earlier maturation)
  • Matured earlier
  • Had more offspring
  • Lived at a faster pace 

Study by an international research team, with scientists from the University of Lincoln, the US, Malaysia, Ecuador and the Middle East, on over 1,000 species of lizards and snakes, as published in the journal Global Ecology And Biogeography, November 2014.

Posted: Thursday 15 January 2015