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Close Up Of Granddaughter Hugging Grandmother In Park

Some Scientists Struggle With Why There Are Grandmothers

Why do humans live to be old when most animals don’t? Pop psychology weighs in

Pop science specialist Alison Gopnik, author of several books, including The Philosophical Baby (2010) and Scientist in the Crib (1999) explains grandmothers: On an evolutionary timescale, Homo sapiens emerged only quite recently. Yet in that short time, we have evolved a particularly weird life history, with a much longer childhood and old age than other animals. In particular, we’re very different from our closest primate relatives. By at least age seven, chimpanzees provide as much food as they consume, and they rarely live past 50 – there’s no chimp equivalent of human menopause. Even in forager cultures, where growing up is accelerated, children aren’t self-sufficient until they’re at least 15. What’s more, even in communities without access to modern medicine,…