Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Grandmother hypothesis article

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMay 5, 2007 4:37 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Here's an article on The Grandmother Hypothesis. Personally, I didn't take the idea seriously until a biological anthropologist told me that menopause was a tightly integrated proactive cascade of biochemical changes which shuts down female procreative capacity. In contrast, human males exhibit declining fertility in a gradual fashion due to a generalized breakdown of bodily function. I am generally suspicious of some sort of adaptation when something so precise in our physiology seems on the surface to reduce fitness. Update: Here is an article from the originator of The Grandmother Hypothesis:

This article assesses effects of the modern world on hunter-gatherer adult mortality, with special reference to the Hadza. Evidence suggests that such effects are not sufficient to deny the existence of substantial life expectancy at the end of the childbearing career. Data from contemporary hunter-gatherers(Ache, !Kung, Hadza) match longevity extrapolated from regressions of lifespan on body and brain weight. Twenty or so vigorous years between the end of reproduction and the onset of significant senescence does require an explanation.

Note: I expect readers of this weblog to comprehend that small (e.g., less than 1%) selection coefficients over long periods of time are evolutionarily significant.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In