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Sex-Loving Reptiles Lead Shorter Lives

Oct 24, 2014 12:16 PM EDT
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Apparently reptiles have an ultimatum in life. Live hard and die young, or live long and healthy lives by abstaining from sex and meat.

That's at least according to a new study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, which details how the "rock n' roll" lifestyle equivalent for lizards is apparently having plenty of sex while stuffing your face with meats.

This was determined after researchers analyzed global data on 1,014 species including 672 lizards and 336 snakes. It was found that the more a reptile had sex or gave birth, the shorter its average life-span was. Carnivorous tendencies influenced lifespan to a similar effect.

Co-author Daniel Pincheira-Donoso of the University of Lincoln likened this to the rock star adage "live fast, die young."

"Along the same lines, the study revealed that reptiles which sexually mature at a younger age will likely have shorter lives, while those who prefer to delay sexual maturity will probably live longer," he added in a statement. "And lastly, we found that vegetarians live longer than their carnivorous counterparts. Vegetal food is an intrinsically low-nutrition food, so we think that those who have these diets experience a reduction in reproductive rates, which in turn increases their lifespan."

According to the study, Pincheira-Donoso and his colleagues collected data on things like body size, maturation rate, reproductive mode, size of litter or clutch of eggs, birth rate, diet, and even active temperature - a major influence on energy supplies in cold-blooded reptiles.

They found that carnivores tend to mature faster simply because they are exposed to more protein on a regular basis. This leads to more active sex lives, and thus shorter lives. However, the researchers also admit that hunting is riskier than grazing on local flora - leading to shorter lives and stronger pressures to reproduce and keep a species populated.

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