1 Tahrcountry Musings: Unraveling the Mystery of Menopause Though Killer Whales

Friday, July 02, 2010

Unraveling the Mystery of Menopause Though Killer Whales

Results of a new research done by scientists of Universities of Exeter and Cambridge on killer whales, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provide fascinating insight in to menopause in killer whales and humans.
Killer whales, pilot whales and humans are the only three known species where females stop breeding relatively early in their lifespan.
According to researchers as age advances females become more related to those around them and   it creates a 'grandmother' role, where the success rate of breeding in the group can be helped by older females sharing parenting knowledge and stopping breeding which in turn allow younger females easier access to resources. Females become more closely related to infants in the group as they get older. This predisposes females of humans and those of killer whales and pilot whales, to the evolution of menopause and late life helping.
In other long lived mammals it is typically males who leave the group to breed, and females who stay with their mother. Older females will be selected to continue breeding.

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