Wednesday, September 09, 2015

How Grandmom made us human

For later reading from the UKMail.

Human females often live decades past their child-bearing years - and that may have begun with our early Homo relatives 2 million years ago. The grandmother hypothesis says that before then, few females lived past their fertile years. But changing environments led to the use of food like buried tubers that weaned children couldn't dig themselves. So older females helped feed the kids, allowing their daughters to have the next baby sooner. By allowing their daughters to have more kids, grandmothers' longevity genes became increasingly common in the population and human lifespan increased.

I'm not sure I agree with the premise, since primitive societies have a bad reputation for caring for the elderly, especially the older women who have less status.

But hunter gatherers often breast feed for 4 years, farmers only two. Not mentioned in the article is that many tribes traditionally forbid sex when breastfeeding...

African proverb: Man with four wives, all pregnant or breastfeeding. He might as well be single...

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