**This is a guest post written by NC State undergraduate, Jakini Kauba. Jakini has been collaborating with Dr. Clint Penick on the Beats project, digging through over a century of scientific literature to find the heart beats of all of the studied vertebrates on the planet and their lifespans and she needs your help!**  

With the stress of starting new classes and buying new binders, pens, pencils, and notebook paper, our heart rates can increase this time of the year. Rumor has it, that this strain on our hearts can lessen our lifespan

[1], or at least studies of animal heart rates suggest it [2]. Animals that have a faster heart rate (think of the Etruscan shrew [3] at 835 beats per minute) tend to have a shorter lifespan than species that keep a lower pulse (the ornate box turtle [4] with 13.5 beats per minute).

But with only a handful of species studied, the relationship between heart rate and lifespan is still poorly known.

Think about every time you go to the doctor for an annual check-up, a fever, a stomach virus, or an application to play a sport. After recording your height and weight, the nurse or physician’s assistant will always refer to the following five words: “Let’s check your heart rate”. Somewhere there are drawers of files or gigabytes of data that have millions of heart rate recordings stored from doctors’ patients. But it turns out that heart rate is rarely reported for the other tens of thousands of vertebrate species that share the world with us. When their heart rates have been recorded, they are often buried in obscure scientific articles. That is why we are requesting your help.

Join us on a treasure hunt to find the key species that will answer all our questions about how heart rates influence lifespan. Search through articles ranging from birds and fish to amphibians and reptiles to discover which species may be the key to unlocking the secrets to long life. Can you find the species with the fastest heart rate? The slowest? Or can you find a species that breaks the rule and lives longer than it should based on its pulse? Right now the animals to beat are listed on our leader board [5]. We also have a list of the species we have already found [6].

So along with all of your textbooks and erasers, allow us to be a part of your “back to school” list!

Happy hunting!


Jakini Kauba is an undergraduate at North Carolina State University studying Biological Sciences, with a concentration in Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology and a minor in Mathematics. She has spent 2 years working with the Dunn Lab on heart rate and life span trends amongst various vertebrates. In the future she hopes to attend medical school to obtain her MD-PhD and become a doctor of internal medicine. Follow her on Twitter @JakiniKauba

[1] http://www.yourwildlife.org/2015/03/the-single-best-predictor-of-how-many-heartbeats-you-will-live/

[2] http://www.yourwildlife.org/2015/02/the-pump-of-youth/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etruscan_shrew

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornate_box_turtle

[5] http://beats.robdunnlab.com

[6] http://beats.robdunnlab.com/species-records/