Humans cannot escape the inevitability of ageing however, turtles and tortoises may follow a different pattern of ageing.
A study in the journal Science (https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abl7811), researchers used data contributed by SeaLife Adventure and other zoos and aquariums to examine 52 species of turtles and tortoises. The data helped establish that turtles and tortoises may reduce the rate of ageing in response to improvements in environmental conditions. Out of 52 turtle and tortoise species, 75% show extremely slow senescence (deterioration due to ageing), while 80% have slower senescence than humans.
"We find that some of these species can reduce their rate of ageing in response to the improved living conditions found in zoos and aquariums, compared to the wild," said co-author, Prof. Dalia Conde, Species360 Director of Science, Head of the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance. “Modern zoological organizations play an important role in conservation, education and research, and this study shows the immense value of zoos and aquariums keeping records for the advancement of science.”
“Maintaining detailed records about our animals is crucial to animal welfare at Sealife Adventure. This data contributes to research benefiting animals and the preservation of their habitats across the world. We are delighted that our partnership with Species 360 means that our data has contributed to this study.” – Jonathan Humphrys, Senior Manager: Environmental Awareness
SeaLife Adventure is a member of Species360, which maintains the Zoological Information Management Systems (ZIMS) – the largest database on wildlife in human care. As a holder of turtles and tortoises, the Zooquarium has collected and shared data in ZIMS on these species which has contributed to this study.
Senescence appears after sexual maturity as a trade-off between investing energy in growth and repair and investing it in reproduction to pass on genes to offspring. However, organisms such as turtles and tortoises, are believed to be able to continue growth and repair and reduce the effects of ageing.
"Negligible senescence does not mean they are immortal; only that their risk of death does not increase with age, all of them will die due to unavoidable causes of mortality like illness," said Dr. Fernando Colchero, Principal Statistical Analyst, Species360 Conservation Science Alliance, and Associate Professor at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Southern Denmark, one of the researchers on the project.