Primates have long life spans compared to other mammals of the same adult body size, and great apes have the longest life spans of any primate except humans who can live about twice as long as the other great apes. Long human life spans are not a novelty of recent developments in public health and scientific medicine. Although life expectancy at birth was less than 50 years in human populations before 1900, that low average was the result of high rates of infant and juvenile mortality. A girl who survived to adulthood in historical populations, or in the traditional agricultural or hunting and gathering populations known ethnographically, was more likely than not to live past 50, and women reaching that age had, on average, an additional 15 or more years of life ahead. Whether this distinctive longevity evolved only with our own species or in other members of the hominin radiation, perhaps even the first members of genus Homo to expand out of Africa, is currently debated. Hypotheses to explain the evolution of distinctive human longevity highlight the contributions that older individuals make to the fertility and survival of their younger kin (see Grandmothering), and 2) novel aspects of human development prior to adulthood (see Childhood and Adolescence).
Estimates of the Heritability of Human Longevity Are Substantially Inflated due to Assortative Mating, , Genetics, 2018/11/01, Volume 210, Issue 3, p.1109, (2018)
Favorable ecological circumstances promote life expectancy in chimpanzees similar to that of human hunter-gatherers, , Journal of Human Evolution, 2017/4//, Volume 105, p.41 - 56, (2017)
Four Genome-Wide Association Studies Identify New Extreme Longevity Variants, , J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2017/10/12, Volume 72, Issue 11, p.1453 - 1464, (2017)
The emergence of longevous populations., , Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Nov 29, Volume 113, Number 48, p.E7681-E7690, (2016)