Representational image Pixabay, public domain

Chimpanzees in the wild live about as long as humans with similar lifestyles — if disease, food shortages or other hazards don’t kill them before old age does.

A study in the Journal of Human Evolution suggests both male and female chimps can have a life expectancy of almost 33 years, based on a long-term study of wild chimps in Uganda. The Ngogo community in Kibale National Park enjoy this longevity in part because there aren’t many leopard predators in the area and their consistent food supply shields them from famine and helps them fight off disease.

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After following the hundreds of Ngogo chimps between 1995 and 2016, the researchers found that they lived much longer than others of their kind in different communities, “falling within the range of human hunter-gatherers (i.e., 27-37 years),” the study notes. In fact, their survival “was more similar to that of human hunter-gatherers than to other chimpanzee communities.” However, their maximum lifespan was shorter than in the human group.

The information could tell scientists a little more about how humans evolved, “helping us to imagine the conditions that could have changed mortality rates among our early hominin populations,” lead author Brian Wood said in a statement from Yale University, where he is an anthropology professor.

Chimpanzees are one of humans’ closest relatives, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. They can grow up to 3 to 5.5 feet tall and can weigh between 70 and 130 pounds. As they get older, “the forehead often becomes bald and the back becomes gray.”

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