Women & two whale species are the ONLY ANIMALS THAT GO THROUGH MENOPAUSE and live decades beyond the reproductive years! Nearly all animals reproduce until they die.
Why do we both live beyond reproduction? Science has proven that we have a profound purpose to fulfill.
What we provide IS INTEGRAL TO THE LIFESPAN & SURVIVAL OF THE ENTIRE SPECIES – by contributing to the reproductive success and survival of children and grandchildren. Scientists have coined it the “Grandmother Hypothesis”
Evidence suggests that mother whales become more valuable as they age, particularly to the survival of their sons. Fascinating – If a son looses his mother the chances of his own death within that year increase by:
3x if he’s younger than thirty
8x if he’s older than 30
14x times if the mother was post-menopausal
Post-reproductive grandma whales are especially integral to their families when there are food shortages guiding them to hotspots of salmon. In fact, both males and females are more likely to follow post-reproductive female leaders.
It is believed that the help human and whale grandmothers provide to children and grand children leads to increased lifespan for both species.
So why do whales and human stop reproducing early? Reproductive competition between mothers and daughters is eliminated in menopause. As a result, offspring also fare better with decreased competition for food resources as a result.
What I find fascinating is that human and whale grandmas live longer and better the more grand offspring they have! More grandchildren increase grandma’s inclusive fitness benefits. I wonder how having 2 very active boys as I was nearing 40 has contributed to my inclusive fitness benefits?
Whale families resemble our ancestral human family structures. Like our ancestors, whales do not disperse away from their mothers. The mutual benefits between grandmas and offspring arise because of close-knit family-based systems.
I am left wondering- What do humans lose by living far from our families? I wonder if our modern family arrangements will have long-term implications for grandmas and grandchildren – Or our species as a whole?