In a recent study, a scientist proposed that humans might have lived up to 200 years if not for the influence of dinosaurs.
Microbiologist Joao Pedro de Magalhaes from the University of Birmingham observed a notable contrast in the aging process between mammals like humans and reptiles/amphibians.
He suggested that the dominance of dinosaurs, particularly during a crucial period in mammalian history, played a role in altering the trajectory of human aging.
The “longevity bottleneck” hypothesis proposed in a newly published paper explains that the evolutionary pressure exerted by dinosaurs pushed smaller mammals to prioritize rapid reproduction for survival. This possibly led to the shedding of genes associated with longer lifespans over the course of evolution.
“The early mammals likely adapted to survive through rapid reproduction during the age of dinosaurs,” noted de Magalhaes, implying a profound influence on human aging patterns.
The study also highlighted the probable loss of certain enzymes among ancient mammalian ancestors during the era of dinosaurs. These enzymes, including those responsible for repairing UV-induced skin damage, might have been lost, impacting humans’ vulnerability to sun-related harm.
While marsupials and monotremes also lack key UV-repair enzymes, it’s uncertain if this deficiency correlates with their comparatively shorter lifespans.
De Magalhaes speculated that mammals attempting to adapt by becoming nocturnal for safety might have experienced genetic loss. Presently, after millions of years, this loss is compensated for through the use of protective measures like sunscreen.
While this concept remains a hypothesis, it opens intriguing possibilities, including the correlation between rapid aging and increased cancer susceptibility in mammals compared to other species.