Grandmother Hypothesis, The
The grandmother hypothesis states that the long post-reproductive life span in human females would have evolved because women were able to gain more fitness by investing in their adult offspring and grand-offspring rather than by reproducing until old age. Because of this fitness benefit, selection would have favored a longer post-reproductive life span during human evolution.
In most animals, reproductive and somatic senescence occurs at the same time as a part of the gradual decline in overall physical condition with age. In few species, however, the reproductive functions show an abrupt deterioration well before other body functions, leading to a total loss of fertility during middle age and subsequent post-reproductive life span of several decades. So far, the most convincing evidence from menopause and long post-reproductive life span comes from a few whale species,...
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