You may know that human females tend to live longer than males, which has been attributed to differences in both behavior and biology. Some theories suggest that the differences are linked to the different sex chromosomes that we inherit from our parents. However, a new Canadian study of bighorn sheep have found a link between aging in sheep mothers is linked to the chromosomes of her offspring.
This study conducted by Université de Sherbrooke has discovered that bighorn sheep mothers that have male offspring age faster than those who have female offspring. Bighorn sheep are sexually dimorphic, which means that there are differences between the who sexes. Male bighorns are larger than females, a difference that is evident from birth, and require more parental resources.
Bighorn sheep mothers who have raised many male lambs past weaning have been shown by this study to have a strong decline in reproductive success as they age. These mothers also age faster than mothers who have raised female lambs. The effects of raising sons were particularly pronounced in mothers who had male lambs in their earlier reproductive years. Whether these results also hold true in humans is yet to be seen, but may have implications for domestic sheep and animal breeders.
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