Letter | Published:

Evolution of Senescence and Specific Longevity

Naturevolume 220pages281282 (1968) | Download Citation



COMFORT'S recent article1 prompts us to comment on an aspect of the evolution of senescence: particularly on the question why, given equally good environments, organisms differ very greatly in longevity. We agree with Comfort2 in defining senescence as the total effect of all changes which occur in an organism as it ages and which render it more vulnerable or less viable. We define specific longevity as the time from birth to 99 per cent mortality in a cohort.

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  1. 1

    Comfort, A., Nature, 217, 320 (1968).

  2. 2

    Comfort, A., Ageing—The Biology of Senescence (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1964).

  3. 3

    Medawar, P. B., An Unsolved Problem of Biology (H. K. Lewis, London 1952).

  4. 4

    Williams, G. C., Evolution, 11, 398 (1957).

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  1. Department of Life Sciences, University of California, Riverside, California

    • E. B. EDNEY
    •  & ROBERT W. GILL


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