Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Living longer thanks to grandma:

Australian-backed research shows the importance of grandmothers to our longevity.
By Motherpedia
Date: October 25 2012
Editor Rating:

Just as New South Wales is set to celebrate ‘Grandparents Day’ this Sunday, new research published in the British Biological Society’s journal demonstrates how important grandmothers are to evolution (sorry grandad).

The ‘grandmother hypothesis’ was first developed in 1997 by scientists in the United States who had noticed that older women in hunter-gatherer communities in Tanzania spent their time gathering food for their grandchildren. Other primates, such as apes, gather their own food after weaning.

But until the now, the hypothesis was just that.

With the help of funding from the Australian Research Council and the National Science Foundation, researchers led by Professor Kristen Hawkes, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology of the University of Utah developed computer simulations through which they tested the impact of ‘grandmothering’ on life expectancy. The study simulated evolution over time with the question: ‘If you start with a life history like the one we see in great apes – and then you add grandmothering, what happens?’

The research team, which included Dr Peter Kim from Sydney University, measured the change in adult average life span ranging from that of a chimp who lives to an average of 28-30 years to a human in developed nations who lives to an average in the early 80s. The simulation accounted for improved conditions due to clean water, sewerage systems and other public health measures, as well as a series of conservative assumptions about ‘being’ a grandmother and care patterns. It begins with only 1 per cent of women living to grandmother age and able to care for grandchildren, but by the end of 24,000 to 60,000 years (a relatively short timeline in evolution), the results are similar to those we know: about 43 per cent of adult women are grandmothers.

“Grandmothering was the initial step toward making us who we are,” Professor Hawke says.

Professor Hawkes acknowledges a competing ‘hunting hypothesis’ which holds that as natural resources declined, there was natural selection for humans with larger brains who were smarter about hunting for food. The larger brains led to longer life spans.

But Professor Hawkes says the computer simulation ignored brain size, hunting and pairing and that, even at its most conservative, the simulated creatures evolved from chimp longevity to human longevity.

She believes the shift to longer adult life span caused by grandmothering “... is what underlies subsequent important changes in human evolution including increasing brain size.”

"If you are a chimpanzee, gorilla or orang-utan baby, your mother is thinking of nothing about you. But if you are a human baby, your mother has other kids she is worrying about.

“Grandmothering gave us the kind of upbringing that made us more dependant on each other socially and prone to engage each other’s attention.”

According to Hawkes, this gives rise to “a whole array of social capacities” that are the foundation of distinctly human traits – some of which are still evolving - such as learning new skills, bonding, cooperation and collaboration.

All that, and babysitting too.

Share This Tweet This Email To Friend
Recent Comments
33 Total Comments
Aiden Aiden1 says: 2020 12 27

I really like your take on the issue. I now have a clear idea on what this matter is all about.. <a >토토</a>

mark cooper says: 2020 12 30

Thanks for sharing nice information with us. i like your post and all you share with us is uptodate and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. lonestar transfer

betta fish says: 2020 12 31

I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to undertand. Unlike additional blogs I have read which are really not tht good. I also found your posts very interesting. In fact after reading. I had to go show it to my friend and he ejoyed it as well! betta fish

Aiden Aiden1 says: 2021 01 03

After testing and evaluating 30 routers over 250 hours, we’ve determined that the best WiFi routers in India for wirelessly connecting your laptops,Best wifi routers for long range your smart devices, and anything else your daily life depends, because your wireless router is responsible for handling all the data that flows into and out of your home through your internet service provider.

miniblinder blinder says: 2021 01 11

Your post is very helpful to get some effective tips to reduce weight properly. You have shared various nice photos of the same. I would like to thank you for sharing these tips. Surely I will try this at home. Keep updating more simple tips like this. kitchen appliances reviews

Aiden Aiden1 says: 2021 01 12

I have read all the comments and suggestions posted by the visitors for this article are very fine,We will wait for your next article so only.Thanks! 먹튀검증

miniblinder blinder says: 2021 01 13

Wow, this is really interesting reading. I am glad I found this and got to read it. Great job on this content. I like it. Test Bank for Transformations Women Gender and Psychology 3rd Edition By Crawford

Weight Loss says: 2021 01 18

LIMITED EDITION Experience Virtual Reality Now! Version 2.0 Discount40% OFF See More15% OFFFASHION & ACCESSORIESApparel Fashion Price starting from$5.99 See More20% OFFLIVEBYCARE Combo 5x Pillows Color Discount20% OFF Shop Now Bluetooth Latest Speakers Price starting from$22.99 XBOX CONTROLLER WHITE COLOR Discount 10% SMART APPLE PRODUCTS 15% OFF12% LISTEN TO REAL MUSIC WITH BEATS Weight Loss

Ayesha Khatri says: 2021 01 21

crystal skulls for sale hand carved Tibetan healing crystal stone skulls online for chakra balancing, reiki energy healing, meditation, yoga, stress, anxiety depression

beatri ceerivera says: 2021 01 23

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work 먹튀검증

View All Comments
Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:33343

Your Comment has been posted
Related Articles
Having grandparents is a valuable and priceless thing. We all…
Read more
Grandparents and their grandchildren are a special team.
Read more

Latest Tech Used In Shipping Containers
Read how the shipping industry has revolutionised

Motherpedia cover-2

Win 1 set of a 4-book hardcover illustrated boxed set
Barbara Murray’s new 4-book Sound Stories is perfect for parents and educators and could assist with NAPLAN results

Motherpedia cover (4)

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest Australia
Get ready for this celebration!

Vtech giveaway motherpedia

Win 1 of 3 VTech Toys Pack Giveaway
Playtime is so much more with VTech

Motherpedia cover-4

A Fortnight of Foodie Experiences at East Village
A taste of East Village. What's in it for me?

Globber my too fix up cover

We Try: Globber My TOO Fix Up
A scooter that grows with your child

Throw a winning cricket pitch

3 Steps to a Winning Backyard Cricket Pitch
Ex-Adelaide Oval legend curator Les Burdett shares his tips for getting your backyard cricket pitch test match ready this summer

A bike that follows your kids life cycle - motherpedia - cover

A Bike That Follows Your Kids Life Cycle
Check out the Bunzi 2-in-1 gradual balance bike!

Moonlight lifestyle

Moonlight Cinema to bring…
Moonlight Cinema announces brand new Western Sydney venue

Screen shot 2019-11-26 at 8.29.12 am

Your Magical Christmas Wonderland…
Adventure park is about to light up the night sky with its "Christmas Festival of Lights"

Screen shot 2019-11-21 at 11.11.36 am

The Preston Market Gets…
It's time to feel pumped up for the holiday season!


Bunnings team members get…
Help raise funds by buying a snag or donating at your local store.