Science

Newborn female mice live longer if they smell older females’ urine

The scent of older females causes young female mice to reach puberty later and extends their lifespan – the first known case of smell affecting lifespan in mammals, though males aren’t affected



Health



24 November 2022

A mouse mother and her young

Juniors Bildarchiv GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Newborn female mice that sniff odours from adult female mice live 8 per cent longer than expected, possibly because their puberty gets delayed.

We have known since the 1970s that getting young female mice to smell older females’ urine causes them to reach puberty later. This is thought to be because “if you perceive you’ve got lots of adult female competitors in your environment that could affect your ability to reproduce, it may pay to delay your sexual maturation until they’re not around”, says …

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