Recipe for Long-life in Lizards: Live Slow, Die Old

Doctors tell us that the frenzied pace of the modern 24-hour lifestyle — in which we struggle to juggle work commitments with the demands of family and daily life — is damaging to our health. But while life in the slow lane may be better, will it be any longer? Yes, if you’re a reptile.

A new study by Tel Aviv Univ. researchers finds that reduced reproductive rates and a plant-rich diet

increases the lifespan of reptiles. The research, published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, was led by Prof. Shai Meiri, Inon Scharf and doctoral student Anat Feldman of the Department of Zoology at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences, in collaboration with Daniel Pincheira-Donoso of the Univ. of Lincoln and other scientists from the U.S., the UK, Ecuador and Malaysia.

The international team collected literature on 1,014 species of reptiles (including 672 lizards and 336 snakes), a representative sample of the approximately 10,000 known reptiles on the planet, and examined their life history parameters: body size, earliest age at first reproduction, body temperature, reproductive modes, litter or clutch size and frequency, geographic distribution and diet. The researchers found that, among other factors, early sexual maturation and a higher frequency of laying eggs or giving birth were associated with shortened longevity.

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