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How Tiny Bats Can Help Us Extend Human Life

Stashed in: #health, Science!, Longevity!, Flying!, Harvard, Bats

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Flying and health

Flying is an energy-expensive activity, and it releases a lot of toxins into the body from processes in the muscles — which is also why our muscles ache after a work out. As the only flying mammals, bats have evolved the unique ability to resist these toxins, along with many of the others that would cripple another animal.

"The most outstanding difference we’ve seen between bats and other mammals has to do with DNA repair," Wang told Bloomberg. "If the science is as true as we think it is, we can unlock the mechanisms and it can have a huge, huge impact."

There are probably multiple ways that the bats extend their lifespan. Another group of scientists, from Harvard University, analyzed the genome of the tiny Brandt's bat and found another explanation for their disease-resistance — their small size.

A tiny bat with a long life

Typically, a larger size correlates with a longer lifespan in animals (for example elephants, who can live up to 70 years). Smaller mammals like mice usually only live about 18 months. But bats, many of which are quite small, turn this correlation on its head.

The tiny Brandt's bat, which Gladyshev's team studied, is the size of a mouse and can fit in the palm of your hand. But it lives for about 40 years. This "longevity quotient" — the ratio of its size to lifespan — is more than double that of humans, already an incredibly long-lived species.

Apart from certain life-extending behaviors like cave-roosting, hibernation, and having few offspring, it turns out the Brandt's bat has a mutated growth hormone receptor lining on the outside of its cells. This mutation keeps its body small, while contributing to its long life, just as it does for dwarf mice, and even some humans.

I laughed when I heard that having few offspring extends your life.

Children suck the life force out of us!!

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