Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Evolution of Senescence and Specific Longevity


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


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

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

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

    Google Scholar 

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

    Google Scholar 

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

EDNEY, E., GILL, R. Evolution of Senescence and Specific Longevity. Nature 220, 281–282 (1968).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing