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Elephants born to stressed mothers age faster

23.09.2015 09:24

Elephants born into stressful situations age faster and have fewer offspring, researchers at the University of Sheffield led by Branco Weiss fellow Hannah Mumby have found.

The scientists discovered that Asian elephants born during times when their mothers experience highest stress levels produce significantly fewer offspring in their lifetime despite having higher rates of reproduction at an early age. The research team also found that those animals born under stress declined much more rapidly in older age, decades later.

“Poor early life conditions have been linked to many disease outcomes in humans, but it’s unknown whether stress in early life also speeds up ageing rates in long-lived species” says Dr. Mumby.

The scientists investigating how the process of ageing affects animals made the discovery after being given access to a unique record of the lives and deaths of more than 10,000 elephants from Myanmar spanning three generations and almost a century. The elephants are semi-captive animals working in the timber industry by pushing and dragging logs. The results were published in Scientific Reports.


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