Today: Thu 18 Jan 2018

Social ties help animals live longer

Large families and strong social ties help animals live longer, new research suggests.

In a huge study of female rhesus macaques, a scientist from the University of Exeter found those with many close female relatives have better life expectancy. However, the effect fades with age - suggesting older females learn how to "navigate the social landscape" and have less need for social ties. "Our study supports the idea that social ties promote survival," said Dr Lauren Brent, of the University of Exeter. "This adds to a small but growing body of research that helps to explain why animals are social."

The researchers used female relatives as a proxy for social ties, and they found that each extra female relative reduced a prime-aged female macaque's chances of dying in one year by 2.3%.

Dr Brent added: "What was particularly interesting was that social ties didn't have survival benefits for older females. "One possible explanation for this is that older females behave differently from their younger counterparts. "Macaques spend a lot of time interacting with one another. Being groomed helps rid them of parasites, while being aggressive helps establish their place in the social order.

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