*MLS = maximum reliably documented life span. "C" denotes longevity record from captive representatives; "W" denotes record from mark-recapture records from wild populations. References: National Research Council, 1981; Murphy and King, 1990; Ku and Sohal, 1993; Nottebohm et al., 1994; Holmes, et al., 2001; Holmes and Austad 1995a; Austad, 1997; Ottinger, 2001; D. Nelson, pers. comm.; F. Nottebohm, pers. comm.
In addition, several teams of field ornithologists have published reports of aging-related declines in immunity in wild birds (for an earlier review, see Holmes and Austad, 2004).
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For centuries, ever since the legendary Ponce de Leon went searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth, people have been looking for ways to slow down the aging process. Medical science has made great strides in keeping people alive longer by preventing and curing disease, and helping people to live healthier lives. Average life expectancy keeps increasing, and most of us can look forward to the chance to live much longer lives than our ancestors.