A Theory for the Origin of Human Menopause.


:A complete and compelling evolutionary explanation for the origin of human menopause is wanting. Menopause onset is defined clinically as the final menses, confirmed after 1 year without menstruation. The theory proposed herein explains at multiple levels - ultimately genetic but involving (1) behavioral, (2) life history, and (3) social changes - the origin and evolution of menopause in women. Individuals in Lower Paleolithic human populations were characterized by short lifespans with diminished late-age survival and fertility, similar to contemporary chimpanzees, and thence were subject to three changes. (1) A mating behavior change was established in which only young women reproduced, thereby rendering as effectively neutral female-specific late-onset fertility-diminishing mutations, which accumulated subsequently. (2) A lifespan increase was manifested adaptively, revealing the reproductive senescence phenotype encoded in late-onset fertility-diminishing mutation genotypes, which, heretofore, had been unexpressed in the shorter lifespan. (3) A social interaction change emerged exaptively, when older non-reproductive women exclusively started assisting in rearing grandchildren rather than giving birth to and caring for their own children, ultimately leading to menstrual cycle cessation. The changes associate in a one-to-one manner with existing, non-mutually exclusive hypotheses for the origin of human menopause. Evidence for each hypothesis and its associated change having occurred are reviewed, and the hypotheses are combined in a synthetic theory for the origin of human menopause. The new theory simultaneously addresses the main theoretical problem with each hypothesis and yields predictions for future testing.


Front Genet


Frontiers in genetics


Takahashi M,Singh RS,Stone J




Has Abstract


2017-01-06 00:00:00








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