Article: article from journal or magazin.
Letter (letter): Communication to the publisher.
Evolutionary theories of aging. 1. The need to understand the process of natural selection.
BACKGROUND: In a Forum article Le Bourg (1998) criticized recent tests of evolutionary theories of aging and suggested alternative explanations for the long lifespan of ant queens and the positive relationship between body size and lifespan in mammals. Moreover, he attempts to criticize evolutionary theories of aging by showing that explanations other than evolutionary theories of aging probably account for the variation in human lifespan across countries. OBJECTIVE: Here we show that the arguments of Le Bourg suffer several problems. First, many of the arguments reveal a misunderstanding of the process of natural selection. Second, some of the arguments reflect a lack of knowledge of evolutionary theories of aging (e.g. pre-reproductive mortality is not predicted to influence lifespan of organisms contrary to what is claimed). Finally, his final example on lifespan in humans simply is a straw-man because serious evolutionary biologists are well aware of the importance of confounding variables and would certainly not make the type of conclusion suggested by Le Bourg. CONCLUSION: Although a critical discussion of evolutionary theories of aging is welcome, we believe that the alternative explanations proposed by Le Bourg are implausible and reflect a misunderstanding of the process of natural selection.
Aging/genetics, Aging/physiology, Animals, Ants/physiology, Body Weight, Evolution, Humans, Longevity/genetics, Longevity/physiology, Mammals/physiology, Models, Biological, Selection (Genetics)
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