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Old Age Was Secret of Modern Humans' Success..(Specifically GRANDMOTHERS)

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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:40 PM
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Old Age Was Secret of Modern Humans' Success..(Specifically GRANDMOTHERS)
not a new article, but with a First-Grandma, I thought this was interesting :)


Old Age Was Secret of Modern Humans' Success
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=old-age-was-secret-...

Old Age Was Secret of Modern Humans' Success

By Sarah Graham

Humans began to live long and prosper only about 30,000 years ago, researchers report. Results published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveal a striking increase in human longevity during the Upper Paleolithic Period when the number of people surviving to old age increased four-fold.

Rachel Caspari of the University of Michigan and Sang-Hee Lee of the University of California at Riverside, examined 768 hominid dental samples from a variety of locations and time periods. Included in the selection were fossils from Australopithecus, Homo erectus, and Neandertals from Europe and Western Asia. The researchers analyzed the amount of wear on the molars to determine the age of the individuals and defined as old those who reached double the age of reproductive maturation. A comparison of the number of old and young individuals in each time period revealed a dramatic increase in life span that occurred about 30,000 years ago. (The above photograph shows the skull of an early modern human from the site of Cro-Magnon in France.) Significant longevity came late in human evolution and its advantages must have compensated somehow for the disabilities and diseases of older age, when gene expressions uncommon in younger adults become more frequent, the scientists write.

The findings support the so-called grandmother hypothesis, which posits that older women no longer responsible for their own children help support the group by strengthening social bonds and providing greater opportunities to pass on specialized knowledge. "There has been a lot of speculation about what gave modern humans their evolutionary advantage,Caspari remarks. This research provides a simple explanation for which there is now concrete evidence: modern humans were older and wiser.

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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:47 PM
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1. Common sense tells us that
A humans become older, they become wiser.

30,000 years ago, eh?
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:48 PM
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2. Talk about the obvious.
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foxfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:48 PM
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3. So much for the idea that one is of no use to the species
unless one constantly breeds.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Though we can still breed at double the age of maturation
If that's 15, then we can still breed at 30. Hell, women are fertile up to about 3 times the age of maturation. It'd be the number of women (and men too?) who survived to that age which would be more interesting, I'd say. It's not that surprising that women who can both continue having children, and are there to pass on their experience to their early children as they start having babies, are 'fit' for survival of their genes.
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foxfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Agreed. And it also indicates that
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 06:10 PM by foxfeet
childless people can contribute to the survival of the species as a whole, even though they don't pass on their own genes, by assisting with and providing for the young in their social grouping.

ON EDIT: Love your username. I hope you're not thinking of changing!
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Tikki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:52 PM
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4. Thank you ...Excellent article....
Grandmothers have been on my mind a lot lately.

This should be cross-posted in our Anthropology Group.


Tikki
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:19 PM
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7. There's also speculation out there
that Neanderthals were at a distinct disadvantage to modern humans because they did not live as long as modern humans. I believe I've read that the oldest Neanderthal remains found would have been about 45 years old at death. So there was a big difference in the length of "living memory" available to each species. For instance, if your group has a couple of members who are at least 60, they can remember events from a half century before, perhaps a big flood or an especially snow-filled winter, or some such infrequent event, and can recall how the group back then dealt with the problem and survived. If your oldest member is no more than 45, you just don't have the memory of a 50 year old event available.

While as a woman, I want women's accomplishments at contributions to the group to be honored, the male elders are also useful. It was interesting noticing how (my now ex) husband really became a mentor to younger men in his work place after he turned 50.
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