Why do females often live longer than males?

Science writer Stuart Blackman discusses female longevity.

Males throughout the animal kingdom tend to live shorter lives than females. © DeAgostini / Getty Images

Being male may have its advantages, but longevity isn’t one of them.

Advertisement

Males throughout the animal kingdom tend to live shorter lives than females. The discrepancy stems from the intense competition between males to fertilise females, which inclines them towards a rather unsustainable all-or-nothing life strategy involving fights to the death and flamboyant, energy-sapping displays.

A recent study of African killifish showed that the gaudy males turn the heads not only of females, but predators, too, to the point that males comprise only about 30 per cent of the population.

Advertisement

Do you have a wildlife question you’d like answered? Email your question to wildquestions@immediate.co.uk or post it to Q&A, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Immediate Media Company, 2nd Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN