A new 20 year study published in Molecular Ecology shows that telomere length can be used to predict the lifespan of Seychelles Warblers, which are birds contained on an island and that have no natural predator. This study measured telomeres, which are end caps of chromosomal DNA that get shorter each time DNA is copied. Across the lifespan of these warblers, the study found that having shorter telomeres at any age is associated with an increased risk of death. The study showed that “short and rapidly shortening telomeres were a good indication that the bird would die within a year.” Since telomeres can be attacked by oxidants, it is thought that stress may play a role in telomere shortening. Though this is just one study, it seems that telomere length is a better indicator of biological age and future life-expectancy than real age.
For more information click here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119213144.htm