In a perfect world, an European storm petrel could live more than thirty years as has been noted sometimes. These migratory sea birds are a little larger than say sparrows. But they are really the long living ones out there among the birds. However, that varies and varies enough. No doubt individual lifespan depends upon their genetic composition. But longevity additionally demands care and that also at the gene level. Over the course of evolution, the packaging strategies to protect our genes have advanced impressively. Telomeres are one of them. As you can see in the second picture so nicely.
‘Telos’ means end and ‘meros’ means part. Thus telomeres serve as a protective cap at the end of gene segments (chromosomes). The concept is that the longer the telomere the better it is for the cell or the organism. As the length is not constant. It shortens gradually during the life course. So it really matters what the length is at the beginning. Measuring the telomere length dynamics in the early days of long living birds like storm petrel or king penguin has revealed that chick mortality is directly related to telomere length. In addition telomeres are sensitive to oxidative stress. Hence any condition generating stress might cause additional crisis. This points that prenatal care is important. And this has also been noted to be related to increased telomere loss. Hence reaching a ripe old age is not only in genes. Taking care from the beginning is equally important. All these eventually decide the fittest in the survival game.