The findings suggest that the human life span (average length of life of an organism) isn’t just an extended version of the life span of other mammals, said study researcher Chet Sherwood, an anthropologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Instead, humans seem to experience old age in a unique way.
“The greatest point of deterioration that we found is in that part of the human life span which is beyond the life span of wild chimpanzees,” Sherwood told LiveScience. “We think that the effect we see is the result of increased longevity.”
The findings, published today (July 25) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could explain why humans are uniquely vulnerable to Alzheimer’s and other age-related brain disease, Sherwood said.