Re: longevity
Fri, 19 Nov 1999 20:25:07 EST

In a message dated 11/19/99 10:05:02 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

> In further support of your comments, I'd add that evolution may select for
> short-lived individuals in order to speed up the process. By analogy, a
> that reproduces every three months has the ability to adapt to a changing
> environment more successfully than a species that takes three decades to
> reproduce.
> A short life span represents nature's way of increasing the clock rate, so
> speak, for a given population, thereby accelerating the rate of evolution
> adaptability for that population, and in turn, increasing its chances to
> as a species (although not so much as individuals).

This has been proposed many, many times but it doesn't hold water. A mutant allele that doesn't kill its owner early will eliminate the killer gene. It gets any benefits of accelerated evolution, because it's in the same species, plus its carriers live longer and have more offspring. It's the old principle of group selection; a group benefit allele can only have negligeable costs to individuals possessing it.