Size Does Matter

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( — December 3, 2015) — It seems that tall people are not so attractive as it is generally accepted. Although they are preferred because they give an impression of stability, posture, reliability and permanence, there is a section of life where short guys have an advantage over taller ones: lifespan. Scientists from the Norweigan University of Science and the University of Glasgow, Scotland state that their new study on wild house sparrows proved that shorter specimens are more likely to live longer than the taller ones. The reason for this is that DNA changes if the body is bigger, which is directly linked to ageing and longer life. This research was carried by Professor Pat Monaghan, Regius Chair of Zoology at the Univewrsity of Glasgow and his colleagues and was published in the Academic Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences.

Although we are familiar with the fact that larger animals live longer than smaller ones (elephants live longer than rabbits), according to the study, with some species it is not so. Namely, a beautiful St.Bernard has much shorter life than a Jack Russell. 

Scientists say that the same thing stands for humans. Taller people seem to be more prone to diseases, which was quite difficult to prove until this study was done. The catch appears to be in telomeres. To put it plainly, telomeres are protective caps at the end of each chromosome which function as a bodyguard. They protect chromosomes from declining while cell division is in progress, they don’t allow them to mix either with themselves or with other chromosomes.

The focus of this study were wild house sparrows who live in Norway, on a faraway lake of Leka. It turned out that bigger sparrows had shorter telomeres and vice versa.Telomeres which are short are more open to diseases and ageing because they erode and deteriorate over time and if a person has naturally longer telomeres, they are likely to live much longer. Professor Monaghan explains why we don’t just get bigger, since being bigger is a competitive advantage: “Growing a bigger body means that cells have to divide more. As a result, telomeres erode faster and cells and tissues function less well. The reason why the bigger individuals have shorter telomeres might also be related to increased DNA damage due to growing faster.Being big can have advantages, of course, but this study shows that it can also have costs”.

It seems that although the Great Danes are more good-looking and attractive, it’s better to be a Chihuaua, at least because Chihuauas live twice longer. So, again, size does matter.