A new study by biologists has linked food supply to animal ageing by stating that animals may age faster depending on how much competition there is for food in their early life.
The main assertion of the study is that animals, which are born when competition for food is intense, tend to age quickly.
Carried out by researchers from the Edinburgh and Cambridge University, the study focused on the red deer on the Isle of Rum, finding that they reproduce less and die sooner.
Because the birth weight of the deer had no effect on ageing, the research suggests that it may be linked to food intake.
According to the research, as the deer age, the chances of reproducing and surviving the winter can decline with each year that passes.
A startling discovery of the study on the animals was that those born when competition for food was strong, have an even slimmer chance of reproducing and surviving each year compared with those born in plentiful times.
"Our results suggest that the deer experiencing environmental stress just before and after birth do poorly as adults and age faster," said Dan Nussey, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences.
"Under natural conditions, it may be that harsh early environments are somehow constraining development and ultimately exacerbating the ageing process," Nussey told BBC News.
These findings contradict similar studies on humans, which suggest that those experiencing an unfavourable environment during development may become more resilient as adults.