Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Grandfather hypothesis

I'm not sure what to think about this paper, nor do I have time to really think about it ... but I do have time to put pictures.

Selection for long lifespan in men: benefits of grandfathering?

M. Lahdenperä, A.F. Russell, V. Lummaa

Proc. Roy. Soc. B
online before print

Abstract: Life-history theory suggests that individuals should live until their reproductive potential declines, and the lifespan of human men is consistent with this idea. However, because women can live long after menopause and this prolonged post-reproductive life can be explained, in part, by the fitness enhancing effects of grandmothering, an alternative hypothesis is that male lifespan is influenced by the potential to gain fitness through grandfathering. Here we investigate whether men, who could not gain fitness through reproduction after their wife's menopause (i.e. married only once), enhanced their fitness through grandfathering in historical Finns. Father presence was associated with reductions in offspring age at first reproduction and birth intervals, but generally not increases in reproductive tenure lengths. Father presence had little influence on offspring lifetime fecundity and no influence on offspring lifetime reproductive success. Overall, in contrast to our results for women in the same population, men do not gain extra fitness (i.e. more grandchildren) through grandfathering. Our results suggest that if evidence for a ‘grandfather’ hypothesis is lacking in a monogamous society, then its general importance in shaping male lifespan during our more promiscuous evolutionary past is likely to be negligible.

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