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On the authenticity of “the oldest human” Jeanne Calment


  • Zak, Nikolay
  • Gibbs, Philip


Madame Calment’s extraordinary longevity claim has significantly influenced current estimates of human lifespan. However, recent evidence raises doubts about the authenticity of her record. We compare two competing hypotheses: the base scenario, which assumes that Jeanne’s daughter Yvonne died in 1934, and the switch scenario, which proposes that Yvonne assumed her mother’s identity in 1933. Our analysis suggests that the available evidence supports the switch scenario and contradicts the previously accepted base scenario. This study emphasizes the need to re-evaluate the evidence and highlights the importance of DNA testing (subject to approval by the French authorities). The case of Jeanne Calment was considered the gold standard for age validation. Our research shows that documentation is not always sufficient to verify cases of exceptional longevity. This has important implications for our understanding of the upper limits of human lifespan and demographic patterns in extreme ages.

Suggested Citation

  • Zak, Nikolay & Gibbs, Philip, 2023. "On the authenticity of “the oldest human” Jeanne Calment," SocArXiv jgmsc, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:socarx:jgmsc
    DOI: 10.31219/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James W. Vaupel, 2010. "Biodemography of human ageing," Nature, Nature, vol. 464(7288), pages 536-542, March.
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