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By Robert Arking

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4) whose age at death was determined from the annual growth rings on the horns. See text for explanation. 7 Source: after Deevey (1947). aMortality rate per 1000 animals alive at beginning of age interval. 10. An individual that survived the period of high initial mortality would thereafter enter a period in which the further expectation of life would be very long. In some species, the further expectation of life for the survivors might even increase with age; this phenomenon is believed to be true of certain trees.

But we must not be too enthusiastic in this approach, lest we become too simplistic in our interpretations. 2 Choosing an Experimental Organism The choice of an experimental organism is dictated both by pragmatic considerations and by one’s perception of the goal of gerontology. If one perceives the goal to be the study and understand- ing of human aging only, then the value of any proposed experimental organism will be in direct proportion to its biological similarity to humans. The more distant the evolutionary relatedness between us and them, the less useful are the lessons learned and thus the less desirable they are as models of aging.

I deal with these classes in more detail in the discussion of plasticity later in this chapter, as well as in chapter 4 and at other points throughout our tour of the topic. However, we should keep in mind the nature of the mechanism(s) that distinguish these three groups, and we should consider whether the differences between them are qualitative or quantitative. These three categories crosscut and otherwise disregard the common phylogenetic and evolutionary relationships—a phenomenon that a complete explanation of aging must encompass.

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