Grandmothering and cognitive resources are required for the emergence of menopause and extensive post-reproductive lifespan - Université Paris Nanterre Access content directly
Journal Articles PLoS Computational Biology Year : 2017

Grandmothering and cognitive resources are required for the emergence of menopause and extensive post-reproductive lifespan

Abstract

Menopause, the permanent cessation of ovulation, occurs in humans well before the end of the expected lifespan, leading to an extensive post-reproductive period which remains a puzzle for evolutionary biologists. All human populations display this particularity; thus, it is difficult to empirically evaluate the conditions for its emergence. In this study, we used artificial neural networks to model the emergence and evolution of allocation decisions related to reproduction in simulated populations. When allocation decisions were allowed to freely evolve, both menopause and extensive post-reproductive life-span emerged under some ecological conditions. This result allowed us to test various hypotheses about the required conditions for the emergence of menopause and extensive post-reproductive life-span. Our findings did not support the Maternal Hypothesis (menopause has evolved to avoid the risk of dying in childbirth, which is higher in older women). In contrast, results supported a shared prediction from the Grandmother Hypothesis and the Embodied Capital Model. Indeed, we found that extensive post-reproductive lifespan allows resource reallocation to increase fertility of the children and survival of the grandchildren. Furthermore, neural capital development and the skill intensiveness of the foraging niche, rather than strength, played a major role in shaping the age profile of somatic and cognitive senescence in our simulated populations. This result supports the Embodied Capital Model rather than the Grand-Mother Hypothesis. Finally, in simulated populations where menopause had already evolved, we found that reduced post-reproductive lifespan lead to reduced children's fertility and grandchildren's survival. The results are discussed in the context of the evolutionary emergence of menopause and extensive post-reproductive life-span.

Dates and versions

hal-04531882 , version 1 (04-04-2024)

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Carla Aimé, Jean-Baptiste André, Michel Raymond. Grandmothering and cognitive resources are required for the emergence of menopause and extensive post-reproductive lifespan. PLoS Computational Biology, 2017, 13 (7), pp.e1005631. ⟨10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005631⟩. ⟨hal-04531882⟩
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