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Whale Grannies

Before we turn them all into whale meat, we need to understand why both human and whale societies need grannies.

Why do female primates (like humans) and whales go through menopause, instead of dying shortly after their reproductive days are over (and thus saving their society the cost of feeding them)? It turns out that grannies are vital to rearing of their grandchildren.

In BBC News, Victoria Gill quotes researcher Michael Cant as saying that both humans and whales have balanced "the costs and benefits of breeding with the costs and benefits of switching off breeding."

Female chimpanzees and gorillas probably go through menopause too. Gill quotes Cant's colleague Rufus Johnstone as saying, "It's easy to forget about the cetaceans, but since they're the only other mammal apart from us [where females] have a comparable post-reproductive lifespan, it's important to study them in this context."

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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