Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 3 May 2006
Vol. 2006, Issue 8, p. nf12
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2006.8.nf12]


What Good Is Growing Old?

Renegade researchers argue that aging is adaptive for the community

Mitch Leslie

Abstract: Defying evolutionary orthodoxy that aging is a disorderly collapse, some researchers argue that the process is an adaptation. Many of these scientists posit that group selection, a controversial form of natural selection in which the group's interests take precedence over those of the individual, drives the evolution of aging. To support their contention that senescence is genetically programmed, the researchers list evidence such as the existence of mutant organisms that live longer than normal, which suggests that unaltered creatures are "voluntarily" dying. Most evolutionists scoff at programmed aging and group selection, which conflict with the prevailing view that natural selection favors traits that benefit individuals over groups. Other scientists are probing whether aging helps reduce competition between relatives, a less controversial alternative to group selection.

Citation: M. Leslie, What Good Is Growing Old? Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2006 (8), nf12 (2006).

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