Pregnancy vs. Longevity: Which animals are comparable to historic humans

This month I chose to focus on Animal Pregnancies, a topic that has been covered very sporadically, with just a few infographics touching the subject in years. Articles are quick to point-out the vast difference between Elephants & Humans due to the “wow” factor (and the pageviews), but I’d rather look for some insights to help me understand the *most similar* animals to Humans. To make this analysis even more fascinating, I’ve found the life expectancy of humans across history, going all the way back to the Bronze Age. This way we can see how our most comparable animals change throughout history.

To build an objective measurement to compare animals, I used four pieces of criteria that are strongly correlated to Pregnancy. I called this calculation the ‘Comparability Score’.

Birth Weight | Pregnancy Length | Longevity | Litter Size

The biggest takeaway here is that there is a significant correlation between the length of pregnancy and maximum age. If I changed one of the axes to Birth Weight, there would be a logarithmic pattern emerging. This in itself is interesting to think about, as we (as of 2015 the maximum age for humans is over 120) seem to buck this trend – maybe due to Science, Medicine & Technology. To help reduce some of those affects, I’ve decided to look at Human Life Expectancy instead of maximum age. Our earlier ancestors seem to fit more in line with the linear trends of animals. Some other interesting insights are below:

  1. The most comparable animal to a Human when focusing on Pregnancy is not a Chimpanzee. It’s not even a primate. It’s a seal, more specifically a Baikal Seal. The Baikal Seal has an extremely similar birth weight, and an even closer Pregnancy length. A human’s life expectancy is also only 9 years above a Baikal Seals maximum age.
  2. The earliest humans (Bronze Age – 2300 B.C.) seem to have a lot in common with deer-like African animals.
  3. Elephants, at birth, weigh more than most human adults.

Find your own insights below by choosing an animal, or filtering the Animal Kingdom.

Please click on the image below to interact with this visualization.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 4.58.32 PM

After some extensive research, I found that the best resource for any type of animal data is Anage. This has been my resource throughout the project.

Tools Used:
– Excel to store data
– Tableau to visualize


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