Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Grandma, not mum, knows best

12.03.2004


Research at the University of Sheffield, published today in Nature, has solved the mystery of why women live so long after their reproductive years have ceased. Basically, grandmothers can ensure the success of their own family by helping to increase the reproductive success of their adult children, thus propagating their own genes.

Dr. Virpi Lummaa and her PhD student Mirkka lahdenperä, from the University of Sheffield and Turku in Finland, examined the family histories of women in Finland and Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries to determine why humans, unlike other animals, survive long after they are unable to reproduce. In the animal kingdom it is usual for both males and females to continue their reproductive life until they die.

The team found that the longer a woman lived after the end of her reproductive years, the more successfully her children’s reproductive lives would be. These children tended to begin their families earlier, have a shorter gap between children, have a longer reproductive life and produce offspring that were more likely to survive into adulthood. The effect was equal for both sons and daughters.



The team examined the lives of almost three thousand women and took into account different ages, socio-economic status, and social and cultural differences between Finland and Canada. The link remained throughout.

Dr Lummaa explains, “We consistently found that women gained, on average, two extra grandchildren for every ten years that they lived past their reproductive life. In evolutionary terms this gives a huge benefit as it makes it more likely that women who survive long after stopping reproduction will forward more genes to the next generation. The evidence suggests that the effect is caused by the woman passing her childcare experience on to her offspring. She can also take on some of the responsibilities of childcare, making it more likely that her children will have more children more quickly.”

Lorna Branton | alfa
Further information:
http://www.shef.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>