Human evolution Intelligent Design

The continuing war over ancient human longevity

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The more data we get about our ancestors, the more it will seem like demographics (except that ancestors can’t vote or butt in). The big one is “average human life span.” Here’s an interesting item from Discover:

Old adults were present across all time periods, but were by far most common among remains from European H. sapiens of the past 50,000 years, suggesting more than a 5-fold increase in elderly individuals. Modern humans, by this measure, had many more individuals that went on to reach old age than our evolutionary cousins.

A more recent study using this method, compared Stone Age Homo sapiens and Neanderthals to archaeological skeletons from the past 10,000 years as well as historical and ethnographic death data. The proportion of older adults from the Stone Age was slim compared to that from people of the past 10,000 years. Adult longevity, at least as measured over thousands of years, has actually gone up.

Other scientists disagree with the implications of these studies, though, arguing that the approach does not provide an honest picture of elders’ presence in the past.Bridget Alex, “When Did Humans Start to Get Old?” at Discover Magazine

We probably don’t know nearly enough yet but it would be surprising if organizing conditions to favor humans did not improve human longevity. It even works well for cats and dogs. “Indoor” cats, for example, live much longer than cats who are subject to nature.

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See also: Researcher: Ancient people were NOT all dead by 30 years of age This matter is worth clarifying because people arguing dubious claims about the mindset of ancient man sometimes assume that few people were around much beyond thirty years of age. But enough of them were around that the lifespan of 70 to 80 years was accepted as the norm for a human being, irrespective of the percentage of the population that reached it.

Is aging a “disease” or does it have an “evolutionary purpose”?

Study: Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”


Anomaly: Human mortality hits a plateau after 105 years of age From Discover Magazine: “ That is, you aren’t any more likely to die at 110 than at 105. It’s a contradictory finding, because mortality ticks steadily upward as we get older at all previous ages.”

5 Replies to “The continuing war over ancient human longevity

  1. 1
    Pearlman says:

    per the Moshe Emes series for understanding science, lower entropy prior to the 1656 anno mundi ‘Mabul’ impacts year, where the science was an average ended by natural causes lifespan of 900 +/- then a increase in entropy gradual decline in life-spans over the next 800 years to modern levels of 70 +/- w/ healthy conditions and family support, (excluding dark age unsanitary conditions..) mainly due to our degraded protective atmosphere

  2. 2
    jstanley01 says:

    Of note: Harvard longevity researcher, David Sinclair, claims that we’re at the Wright Brothers stage of extending productive human lifespans to 120 years and beyond.

    Joe Rogan Experience #1234 – David Sinclair

    The Edge of Medicine and Aging – David Sinclair

    “David Sinclair, Ph.D., A.O. is a Professor in the Department of Genetics and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. He is best known for his work on understanding why we age and how to slow its effects.”

  3. 3
    Brother Brian says:

    In spite of all of our medical research and healthy eating the maximum life span has not budged throughout recorded history. What we have been good at is reducing infant mortality and death by many diseases. However, thanks to our knee-jerk opposition to public health care, and the anti-vaccine crazies, the US infant mortality is higher than most western countries and the median age at death is lower.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    Except only the few are engaging in healthy eating. The masses still eat processed foods and refined sugars.

    And no one opposes health care. The people providing it need to get paid their due.

  5. 5
    PaoloV says:

    Long Life Spans in Genesis 5 and 11

    Biochemists’ success in altering the life span of model organisms in the laboratory and the encroaching ability to increase human life expectancy through biochemical manipulation makes the long life spans in Genesis 5 and 11 scientifically plausible. If humans can alter life spans, how much easier must it be for God to do so?

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