Planet Earth

Menopause in Matrilineal Whales

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanAug 30, 2007 10:50 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

I've talked about menopause a fair amount on this blog, usually in relation to the Grandmother Hypothesis. So I thought I'd pass along this article, Eusociality, menopause and information in matrilineal whales, along. I know that many think that menopause is something that will naturally happen if a mammal lives long enough, as opposed to being an adaptation. I'm generally skeptical of this. The one physical anthropologist who I've talked to and who has explored the topic kept reiterating to me how contingent and interlocking the physiological cascades which shut down the reproductive cycle were. In contrast males tend to exhibit less fertility over time as their body just breaks down with age. Finally, of course it seems that even if there was some physiological process which would result in menopause if life history was pushed far enough down the line, over time adaptations should mask such enforced sterility (e.g., a new genetic variant which masks this phenotype).

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.