Gettin’ Jiggy With It: How Biologists Are Using the Sex Lives of Mouse Lemurs to Fight Human Aging


mouselemurUnlocking the secrets of aging has long been a focus of our science fiction and fantasy. The obsession with curing human mortality gave rise to the classic Fountain of Youth myth, and it continues to spawn new iterations of the tale to this day.

Not content simply to dream, scientists from across the world are studying our primate relatives, in hopes that if we discover how they ward off the rigors of time, we can find a way to emulate their methods. A new study led by biologist Sarah Zohdy and published in PLOS ONE, a scientific journal, has revealed that the mouse lemur, a tiny primate indigenous to Madagascar, may hold the secret to our own longevity.

Active Sex Lives, Steady Testosterone Levels Equalize Male and Female Life Spans
In a study of wild subjects in Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park, Zohdy and her team discovered that both the males and females of this species of lemur live about the same amount of time. That might not sound groundbreaking, but it’s important to consider that in most species, the males bite the bullet long before their female counterparts.

The secret? Mouse lemurs enjoy comparatively active sex lives, and both the males and females of the species have the same level of testosterone from birth to death. In a statement to Emory University, Zohdy explained this biological phenomenon by saying,”while elevated male testosterone levels have been implicated in shorter lifespans in several species, this is one of the first studies to show equivalent testosterone levels accompanying equivalent lifespans.”

The Research Helps Confirm Long Held Suspicions About Human Aging
In truth, the newly published study doesn’t reveal any new insights into humanity’s own problem with aging. Instead, it confirms long-held suspicions that sexual activity and testosterone levels can both predict and ward off aging.

An earlier study, titled Secrets of the Superyoung, by David Weeks, MD revealed that humans with active sex lives appear and feel between four and seven years younger than their inactive peers. Likewise, ongoing studies on testosterone supplements for both men and women in their latter years suggests that, like the mouse lemur, our tiny, short-lived cousin, keeping our testosterone levels steady from puberty to death means feeling and acting younger.

Do you think studying our much smaller cousins can yield any meaningful research on the human condition? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.

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