Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Dec 22;279(1749):4880-4. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1751. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Increased longevity evolves from grandmothering.

Author information

  • 1School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney, F07 Carslaw Building, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.

Abstract

Postmenopausal longevity may have evolved in our lineage when ancestral grandmothers subsidized their daughters' fertility by provisioning grandchildren, but the verbal hypothesis has lacked mathematical support until now. Here, we present a formal simulation in which life spans similar to those of modern chimpanzees lengthen into the modern human range as a consequence of grandmother effects. Greater longevity raises the chance of living through the fertile years but is opposed by costs that differ for the sexes. Our grandmother assumptions are restrictive. Only females who are no longer fertile themselves are eligible, and female fertility extends to age 45 years. Initially, there are very few eligible grandmothers and effects are small. Grandmothers can support only one dependent at a time and do not care selectively for their daughters' offspring. They must take the oldest juveniles still relying on mothers; and infants under the age of 2 years are never eligible for subsidy. Our model includes no assumptions about brains, learning or pair bonds. Grandmother effects alone are sufficient to propel the doubling of life spans in less than sixty thousand years.

PMID:
23097518
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3497232
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (3)Free text

Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Figure 3.
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk