Mrs Tilton is back…forever!

She’s fired up the The Sixth International again, and she threatens promises to be at it for a long, long, long time—she bears a longevity mutation, a single nucleotide substitution in the mitochondrial genome associated with some long-lived people. And some people claim there is no such thing as a beneficial mutation…

Anyway, it’s personally interesting that it’s mitochondrial—that means it is passed down through the maternal line. Since my father’s side of the family is grievously short-lived, but my mother’s side keeps going for nearly forever, that’s good news, if the maternal secret is particularly robust mitochondria. Since this particular allele appears in various lines all around the world, there’s a slim chance.

Otherwise, I’m afraid my only mutant power seems to be the ability to dissolve chewing gum. I was ripped off.


  1. #1 Mrs Tilton
    June 28, 2007

    Ooh, cheers for the link, PZ!

    I’d be curious to know, though, whether the biology pros in the audience agree with me that this could be a mutation that, while of some potential benefit to the individual organism, might well be of no evolutionary significance. (The authors of the cited paper think it’s adaptive. I’m inclined to agree with them WRT twins; not so sure about the doddering geezers.)

  2. #2 terry
    June 28, 2007

    Oh my, what a great site! Loved the Friday arachnid blogging: Say no to drugs!

  3. #3 Paguroidea
    June 28, 2007

    Hip! Hip! Hooray! Mrs Tilton’s back!

  4. #4 D
    June 28, 2007

    I’ve heard it suggested that having people live longer is evolutionary beneficial because it allows them to take care of the grandkids and greatgrandkids and thus enabling the younger generations to be free to do other things. Or something to that effect. It might just be some aided speculation though.

  5. #5 Nat
    June 28, 2007

    I really hope it’s the maternal side too. That way I get to die peacefully in my sleep when I’m 95. If it’s the male side I’m going out with a heart attack in my 50s.

  6. #6 Jim Baerg
    June 28, 2007


    So if people who want to emulate the Howard Society (see Methusalah’s Children by Heinlein) should encourage women with this mutation to have lots of daughters, but not sons.

  7. #7 Dan S.
    June 29, 2007

    Anyway, it’s personally interesting that it’s mitochondrial–that means it is passed down through the maternal line

    Huh. Maybe I do have to plan for the future, then (not something I was worrying about too much, given the rest of my family’s medical history) – emphysema finally took my maternal grandmother out in her 90s, but if it hadn’t been for years of smoking, it seems entirely plausible that she would have been set for another decade or so . . .

    Although if that all’s the case, our family got screwed, since the only one of her kids to have girls was, of course, the son – ah, well . . .

    Otherwise, I’m afraid my only mutant power seems to be the ability to dissolve chewing gum. I was ripped off.

    Hey – don’t complain – my only mutant power seems to be having a nonstandard number of arteries, and in unexpected places (something that came to light during what was supposed to be quite minor surgery, and instead apparently turned into a hours-long ordeal . . . fun, fun . . .

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