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Epigenetics has hitherto been studied and understood largely at the level of individual organisms. Here, we report a multi-faceted investigation of DNA methylation across 11,117 samples from 176 different species. We performed an unbiased clustering of individual cytosines into 55 modules and identified 31 modules related to primary traits including age, species lifespan, sex, adult species weight, tissue type and phylogenetic order. Analysis of the correlation between DNA methylation and species allowed us to construct phyloepigenetic trees for different tissues that parallel the phylogenetic tree. In addition, while some stable cytosines reflect phylogenetic signatures, others relate to age and lifespan, and in many cases responding to anti-aging interventions in mice such as caloric restriction and ablation of growth hormone receptors. Insights uncovered by this investigation have important implications for our understanding of the role of epigenetics in mammalian evolution, aging and lifespan.

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