Authors
Aja Watkins
Boston University
Abstract
Menopause is an evolutionary mystery: how could living longer with no capacity to reproduce possibly be advantageous? Several explanations have been offered for why female humans, unlike our closest primate relatives, have such an extensive post-reproductive lifespan. Proponents of the so-called “grandmother hypothesis” suggest that older women are able to increase their fitness by helping to care for their grandchildren as allomothers. This paper first distinguishes the grandmother hypothesis from several other hypotheses that attempt to explain menopause, and then develops a formal model by which these hypotheses can be compared and tested by empirical researchers. The model is then modified and used to respond to a common objection to the grandmother hypothesis: that human fathers, rather than grandmothers, are better suited to be allomothers due to their physical strength and a high incentive to invest in their own children. However, fathers—unlike maternal grandmothers—can never be sure that the children they are caring for are their own. Incorporating paternity uncertainty into the model demonstrates the conditions under which the grandmother hypothesis is more plausible than a hypothesis that focuses on the contributions of men.
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DOI 10.1007/s40656-021-00455-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Woman That Never Evolved.Sarah Blaffer Hrdy - 1981 - Harvard University Press.

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