Women rarely give birth after about 45 years of age, and they experience the cessation of reproductive cycles, menopause, at about age 50 after a fertility decline lasting almost two decades. Such reproductive aging in mid-lifespan is an evolutionary puzzle of enduring interest because it should be inherently disadvantageous. This study compared the reproductive aging in seven species of nonhuman primates in natural populations to humans. Results provide strong evidence that reproductive aging in midlife is generally absent in other primates.
"From the very beginning of the Primate Life Histories Working Group, this dynamic group of scientific leaders has been committed to studying evolutionary processes in the context of strong ecological pressures, making it an ideal collaboration for NCEAS and NESCent, our sister center focused on evolution," commented Stephanie Hampton, NCEAS Deputy Director.
Reproductive aging patterns in primates reveal that humans are distinct
Susan C. Alberts, Jeanne Altmann, Diane K. Brockman, Marina Cords, Linda M. Fedigan, Anne Pusey,Tara S. Stoinski, Karen B. Strier, William F. Morrisa,, and Anne M. Bronikowski
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, June, 2013
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This work was supported by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, a Center funded by NSF (Grant #EF-0553768), the University of California, Santa Barbara, the State of California, and The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCENT).