Abstract: Use of model organisms in aging research is problematic because our ability to extrapolate across the tree of life is not clear. On one hand, there are conserved pathways that regulate lifespan in organisms including yeast, nematodes, fruit flies, and mice. On the other, many intermediate taxa across the tree of life appear not to age at all, and there is substantial variation in aging mechanisms and patterns, sometimes even between closely related species. There are good evolutionary and mechanistic reasons to expect this complexity, but it means that model organisms must be used with caution and that results must always be interpreted through a broader comparative framework. Additionally, it is essential to include research on non-traditional and unusual species, and to integrate mechanistic and demographic research. There will be no simple answers regarding the biology of aging, and research approaches should reflect this.