Scientist Says Humans Were Meant to Live So Much Longer, Then the Dinosaurs Ruined It

By: Ben Campbell | Published: Jul 10, 2024

A researcher from the United Kingdom believes he has unearthed compelling evidence that humans’ genetic makeup once permitted our species to live much longer. However, the influence of ancient dinosaurs dramatically altered this potential — a discovery that could revolutionize our understanding of evolutionary biology.

João Pedro de Magalhães, a distinguished biologist, is the mastermind behind this groundbreaking theory. His theory posits that the dominance of dinosaurs forced all mammals to accelerate their reproductive cycles, leading to the loss of crucial longevity genes.

Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth for Millions of Years

Due to their immense size, dinosaurs ruled the Earth for over 150 million years during the Mesozoic era. However, they also had several special traits, including warm blood and the ability to thrive in varied habits, which gave them an advantage over other animals.

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A photograph of T-Rex fossils placed on display in a museum

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Due to their extended period of dominance, other animals had to adapt to survive the reign of dinosaurs. One such grouping was mammals, from which humans would later originate. Despite having relatively robust longevity genes, de Magalhães explains that mammals’ potential life spans were affected by the constant threat of dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs Lowered Human Lifespan Says Microbiologist

De Magalhães, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham, developed thelongevity bottleneck hypothesis,” which suggests ancient mammals evolved away from longevity to ensure their species could survive amidst dinosaurs.

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An artist's depiction of ancient humans

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In his study, the researcher explains the evolutionary track of most mammals living on Earth decided to refocus their efforts on rapid reproduction as opposed to longevity to ensure the species survived.

Mammals Sacrifice Key Longevity Genes

During the Mesozoic period, the constant threat of being prey to dinosaurs forced most mammals to accelerate their reproductive cycles. This led to the unfortunate loss of key longevity genes, showcasing a significant consequence of evolutionary pressure.

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In his theory, de Magalhães suggests that while mammals such as humans can have relatively long life spans, we are still living under dinosaur-era restraints.

Biologist Speaks on His Theory

Speaking on his theory in a paper published in BioEssays, de Magalhães wrote, “My hypothesis is that such a long evolutionary pressure on early mammals for rapid reproduction led to the loss or inactivation of genes and pathways associated with long life.”

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He continued, “I call this the ‘longevity bottleneck hypothesis,’ which is further supported by the absence in mammals of regenerative traits.”

All Mammals Living Under Dinosaur Era Restraints

De Magalhães admits in his study that elephants, whales and humans have the potential to live fairly long lives when compared to other mammals. However, the evolution of mammals during the Mesozoic era reduced our potential longevity.

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A photograph of dinosaur remains on display in a museum

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“Evolving during the rule of the dinosaurs left a lasting legacy in mammals,” de Magalhães wrote.

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Mammals Were Small and Nocturnal During the Mesozoic, Says Researcher

According to the microbiologist, mammals went about life in a much different way during the era of dinosaurs. Mammals were positioned much lower on the food chain, and many were nocturnal to remain out of the sight of dinosaurs.

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“For over 100 million years when dinosaurs were the dominant predators, mammals were generally small, nocturnal and short-lived,” said de Magalhães.

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Pressure to Stay Alive Removes Important Longevity Genes

In his paper, De Magalhães suggests that the pressure to stay alive led to the elimination of genes required for the longevity witnessed in animals such as reptiles and others with much slower biological aging processes.

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An artist's depiction of how a tyrannosaurus rex may have looked millions of years ago

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According to biologists, mammals during the Mesozoic era simply lost or deactivated their key longevity genes, which continue to affect humans in the modern era.

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Dinosaurs Affected Humans Evolution

In a statement, de Magalhães explained, “Some of the earliest mammals were forced to live toward the bottom of the food chain and have likely spent 100 million years during the age of the dinosaurs evolving to survive through rapid reproduction.”

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The picture depicts the evolution of humans over millions of years

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He continued, “That long period of evolutionary pressure has, I propose, an impact on the way that we humans age.”

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Loss of Ability to Regenerate

After further research into his theory, de Magalhães believes he has come across evidence to suggest mammals lost certain enzymes during the Mesozoic Era, which also limited their ability to repair damage.

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The biologist suggests mammals have lost the ability to continue growing teeth throughout their entire lifespan, and the enzymes that help restore skin are damaged by rays of ultraviolet light sent forth by the sun. All of which he blames on the dinosaurs.

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Many Animals Have Impressive Regeneration

Despite the reproductive abilities of several animals around the world, ancient mammals did not prioritize genetic information and enzymes, as they were deemed unnecessary.

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A photograph of a T-Rex skull on display in the Gallery of the Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences

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According to de Magalhães, mammals weren’t a priority during the Mesozoic because many were destined to become food for T. Rex and other enormous predators.

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Humans Have the Last Laugh

De Magalhães admits that this research is little more than a hypothesis as it currently stands. But he claims it could help scientists better understand why humans evolved as we did.

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He finished by stating, “There are lots of intriguing angles to take this, including the prospect that cancer is more frequent in mammals than other species due to the rapid aging process.” Nonetheless, even if dinosaurs are to blame for our shortened lifespans, humans did evolve to take the place of the Mesozoic reptiles at the tip of the food chain.

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