Competing for dominance accelerates AGING in baboons: Males at full age faster as a result of defending their ever higher status, study finds
- Researchers are measuring the effects of aging on DNA from 245 baboons in Kenya
- They found that baboons got older too early when they climbed the social ladder
- The team attributes this to the physical demands of fighting for dominance
It’s very high. It turns out that this is especially true for dominant male baboons, which age faster by constantly defending their entire status, a study found.
Researchers in the US are measuring the impact of aging on the DNA of 245 wild baboons from a well-studied population in Amboseli National Park in Kenya.
They found that the physiological effects of achieving – and maintaining – a top rank contributed more to premature aging than difficulties in early life.
It’s very high. This is especially true for dominant male baboons, who are rapidly aging by constantly defending their entire status, a study found. Image: baboons battle
“Environmental stressors can tick the clock faster,” said paper author and evolutionary anthropologist Jordan Anderson of Duke University in North Carolina.
This, he added, means that ‘some individuals appear biologically older than their actual age and experience a higher risk of age-related illness.’
‘We sought to answer what social or early life experiences contribute to accelerated aging in baboons.’
One way to measure and detect graying if this has happened prematurely involves looking at the so-called ‘epigenetic clock’, chemical changes that affect DNA.
Comparing this with other methods, the researchers found that the epigenetic clock was a good predictor of chronological age in general when they were used on the baboons.
However – contrary to their expectations – the team found that adversity early in life was a bad predictor of accelerated aging among the wild monkeys.
Instead, they found that the epigenetic clock appeared to accelerate as baboons climbed and twisted the social ladder as they descended it – an effect they attributed to the physical demands of maintaining high status.
The team also found an association between baboons that have a higher body mass index – and, in the long run, more lean muscle mass – and accelerated aging, which they also link to the exercises needed to recruit candidates. to combat.
The team found that the epigenetic clock appeared to accelerate as baboons climbed and twisted the social ladder as they descended – an effect they attributed to the physical demands of maintaining high status. Image: two baboons fighting for dominance
“Our results claim that achieving high rank for male baboons – the best predictor of reproductive success in these animals – raises costs consistent with a ‘live fast, die young’ life history strategy,” said paper author Rachel Johnston.
‘While the findings show how social pressure can affect old age for men, we do not see the same effect of rank in female baboons,’ said fellow author Jenny Tung.
Female baboons, she explained, ‘are born into their social rank instead of having to fight for it.’
‘Our results have important implications for research into the social determinants of health in humans and other animals, as they show that’ high status ‘in different contexts can mean very different things,’ added Professor Tung.
‘They also highlight the importance of examining the effects of both early life and current living environments on biological aging,’ she concluded.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal eLife.
U.S. researchers measure the impact of aging on the DNA of 245 wild baboons from a well-studied population in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park
Why do non-human primary numbers drop off?
Behind the collapse in numbers is an increase in industrial agriculture, large-scale animal husbandry, logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, dam construction and road construction.
The illegal trade in bushmeat – killing monkeys and monkeys for their meat – also decimates the animals, as does changing climates and diseases spread from humans to monkeys.
Growing trees to produce palm oil – used in many popular foods – is a particular threat to primates in Indonesia, such as mining for gold and sapphires in Madagascar.
With many species living in rainforests, cutting down millions of acres of forest to meet the growing demand for timber or to clear up land for agriculture is destroying their habitat and making populations fragmented.