Why do humans live past menopause? Fully one-third of the human lifespan occurs after childbearing ceases. Given Mother Nature’s preference for reproduction, what could explain this?
Researchers found that, of all mammals, only humans, orca, and short-finned pilot whales go through menopause. (A killer whale undergoing menopause: now, there’s a picture!) And they wondered why. Here’s what they found:
Post-menopausal females bring such a survival advantage to the tribe or pod (protecting and helping the young mothers, finding food, and anticipating danger), that it is equivalent in value to the ability to reproduce.
So the next time you feel shitty for being post-menopausal, remember that you are essential to the survival of your species. (See the Grandmother Hypothesis).
And if you’d like to see more reasons to be happy about getting older, click on this four-post series on the amazing, aging brain.
Late add: thanks to Sue Shoemaker for this related article (click on elephant picture):