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Grandmother Hypothesis of Menopause

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Altriciality lifespan hypothesis; Stopping early hypothesis


Grandmother hypothesis of menopause claims that human females stop reproducing early in relation to their long lifespan because they can gain more fitness benefits by investing in their children or grandchildren rather than by reproducing themselves. Grandmother hypothesis tries not to explain the evolution of menopause per se but rather the evolution of long nonreproductive lifespan of human females.


Long nonreproductive lifespan of human females presents an evolutionary puzzle. Evolutionary theory predicts that individuals are programmed to maximize their number of descendants in future generations, meaning that they should reproduce until death. Thus, there should be selection against living well beyond one’s fertile years. In contrast to some earlier views, based on current knowledge, menopause is not a feature of humans only, but exists also in some non-primate species, namely dolphins,...


  • Grandmother Hypothesis
  • Grandparental Investment
  • Caring Grandmotherhood
  • Grandchild Survival
  • Non-reproductive Years

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Correspondence to Antti O. Tanskanen .

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© 2016 Springer International Publishing AG

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Tanskanen, A.O., Danielsbacka, M. (2016). Grandmother Hypothesis of Menopause. In: Weekes-Shackelford, V., Shackelford, T., Weekes-Shackelford, V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-16999-6

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