Reports

Slowing of mortality rates at older ages in large medfly cohorts

Science  16 Oct 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5081, pp. 457-461
DOI: 10.1126/science.1411540

Abstract

It is generally assumed for most species that mortality rates increase monotonically at advanced ages. Mortality rates were found to level off and decrease at older ages in a population of 1.2 million medflies maintained in cages of 7,200 and in a group of approximately 48,000 adults maintained in solitary confinement. Thus, life expectancy in older individuals increased rather than decreased with age. These results cast doubt on several central concepts in gerontology and the biology of aging: (i) that senescence can be characterized by an increase in age-specific mortality, (ii) that the basic pattern of mortality in nearly all species follows the same unitary pattern at older ages, and (iii) that species have absolute life-span limits.

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