Insights from evolutionarily relevant models for human ageing: Primate Aging Introduction

Melissa Emery Thompson, Alexandra G. Rosati, Noah Snyder-Mackler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


As the world confronts the health challenges of an ageing population, there has been dramatically increased interest in the science of ageing. This research has overwhelmingly focused on age-related disease, particularly in industrialized human populations and short-lived laboratory animal models. However, it has become clear that humans and long-lived primates age differently than many typical model organisms, and that many of the diseases causing death and disability in the developed world are greatly exacerbated by modern lifestyles. As such, research on how the human ageing process evolved is vital to understanding the origins of prolonged human lifespan and factors increasing vulnerability to degenerative disease. In this issue, we highlight emerging comparative research on primates, highlighting the physical, physiological, behavioural and cognitive processes of ageing. This work comprises data and theory on non-human primates, as well as under-represented data on humans living in small-scale societies, which help elucidate how environment shapes senescence. Component papers address (i) the critical processes that comprise senescence in long-lived primates; (ii) the social, ecological or individual characteristics that predict variation in the pace of ageing; and (iii) the complicated relationship between ageing trajectories and disease outcomes. Collectively, this work provides essential comparative, evolutionary data on ageing and demonstrates its unique potential to inform our understanding of the human ageing process. This article is part of the theme issue 'Evolution of the primate ageing process'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190605
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1811
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • evolutionary medicine
  • health
  • phylogeny
  • physiology
  • primates
  • senescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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