Primate longevity: Its place in the mammalian scheme

Steven N. Austad, Kathleen E. Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Data on captive longevity in 587 mammalian species were analyzed in order to evaluate primate longevity in the context of general mammalian life history patterns. Contrary to some recurrent claims in the literature, we found that 1) primates are not the longest‐lived mammalian order, either by absolute longevity, longevity corrected for body size, or metabolic expenditure per lifetime; 2) although relative brain size is highly correlated with longevity in primates, this is an aberrant trend for mammals in general, and other body organs account for an even greater amount of variation in longevity; and 3) there has been no progressive evolution of increased longevity among the primate superfamilies. The exceptional magnitude of primate longevity may, in keeping with evolutionary senescence theory, be due to an evolutionary history of low vulnerability to environmentally imposed death due to their body size, arboreal habit, and propensity to live in social groups. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • body size
  • brain size
  • evolution
  • longevity
  • metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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