Study Shows Grandmothers Key to Human Survival

Study Shows Grandmothers Key to Human Survival

In the ever-evolving landscape of human society, grandmothers play a key role in the survival of the species, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. As humans evolved as a species, grandmothers took over many of the childcare activities of raising children, allowing mothers to turn their attention to the required needs of gathering food.

Study Shows Grandmothers Key to Human SurvivalMulti-Generational Childcare

According to the study, humans live longer than many of their primate relatives. Researchers attribute this to changes that occurred as human society evolved. It is theorized that as grandmothers took over feeding and caring for children after weaning, women began bearing children for shorter periods of time across their life span. As a result, women were more easily able to participate in gathering food and other activities necessary for survival.

In today’s world, a variation of this same activity occurs in many families. As children grow out of their toddler years, many women find they need to return to the work force to support their family. If a grandmother lives in close proximity and is available, she takes over caring for the child while the mother is at work. This provides grandmothers with the opportunity to instill their particular family values and participate in helping the child develop into a well-balanced adult.

Longevity Impact

Another interesting finding in the study was the influence of childcare by grandmothers on longevity. They theorize that multi-generational childcare also passed along the longevity gene which helped increase human survival rates. By allowing mothers to pass along childcare responsibilities to older women, it was the women who survived beyond childbearing years that had the largest influence over human development, in terms of life span. As a result, they passed along their longevity genes to their children.

In studying chimpanzees, researchers found that chimps who utilized grandmothering skills for childcare lived approximately 49 years longer than those who did not pass over infant care to older compatriots. Chimps who did not use grandmothering services only lived approximately 25 years after childbirth.

Grandmothers are extremely important in children’s lives. They pass on generational stories, help establish family boundaries and help children develop healthy attachments. Grandmothers played an important role in the story of human evolution and continue to do so today.

Did your grandmother play a role in your childhood? Do you include your children’s grandparents in their lives? Let’s all take a second to think about our grandmothers 🙂

– the Alternative Daily

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