NPR: Living Near Your Grandmother Has Evolutionary Benefits

February 7, 2019 2:41 PM ET
JONATHAN LAMBERT

Killer whales, Japanese aphids and Homo sapiens  they’re among the few organisms whose females live on long past the age of reproduction.

Since the name of the evolutionary game is survival and reproduction, the phenomenon begs explanation — why live longer than you can reproduce? In the 1960s, researchers came up with the “grandmother hypothesis” to explain the human side of things. The hypothesis is that the help of grandmothers enables mothers to have more children. So women who had the genetic makeup for longer living would ultimately have more grandchildren carrying their longevity genes. (Sorry, grandfathers, you’re not included in this picture.)

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Living Near Your Grandmother Has Evolutionary Benefits
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Living Near Your Grandmother Has Evolutionary Benefits
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Killer whales, Japanese aphids and Homo sapiens — they're among the few organisms whose females live on long past the age of reproduction.