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      Increased longevity evolves from grandmothering

      1 , 2 , 2
      Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
      The Royal Society

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          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.

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          Most cited references19

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          Pleiotropy, Natural Selection, and the Evolution of Senescence

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            The moulding of senescence by natural selection.

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              A theory of human life history evolution: Diet, intelligence, and longevity

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Proc. R. Soc. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8452
                1471-2954
                October 24 2012
                December 22 2012
                October 24 2012
                December 22 2012
                : 279
                : 1749
                : 4880-4884
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney, F07 Carslaw Building, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia
                [2 ]Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, 270 S 1400 E room 102, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
                Article
                10.1098/rspb.2012.1751
                23097518
                af5506eb-d7a9-43d8-8613-9343334ae76e
                © 2012
                History

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