Conclusions

It should not be overlooked that only those processes verified by both unnatural life-span manipulations in the laboratory and naturally occurring evolved differences can be considered as true proven causes of life-span variation. Without verification, one will never know whether the mechanisms uncovered in the traditional model systems are artifacts of laboratory stress or specific to short-lived organisms. Testing in the laboratory will guard against making up ''just-so'' stories based solely on observed natural correlations. The challenge is to combine studies across both types of systems to discover what processes truly underlie the human aging process. Ants offer one of the best insect models to build this bridge.

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