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I have learned that only humans and whales go through menopause.

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@oakreef Interesting! Both long lived, highly social, cultural.
I've seen it convincingly argued that menopause is a social trait, allows the most experienced members of a group to share attention/experience with the youngest generation. In humans, given the extraordinarily high mortality rate of women in childbirth, probably also drastically improved life expectancy for the most valuable minds in a community.

@oakreef Wait, only *humans*? Not even other primates? That's odd

@seachaint Yes only humans and certain species of whales. It's very rare apparently.

@oakreef Weird! And it's hard to accept it could be accidental - unless it provides some benefit, it's reducing fertility for nothing. It's got to be for _something_.

@seachaint @oakreef
Nope, menopause is common in primates, unless you carefully define it to be exclusively human. The hormonal changes leading to reduced or stopped menstruation, and either reduced fertility or the end of fertility, occurs during in monkeys and great apes. The first studies of this were in the 80's.

As usual, there are always people who want to draw definitions of things so that humans come out as special magical beings different from all other animals...

@tfb @seachaint Interesting! Thanks for more information on this. So the distinction being drawl with whales isn't really that menopause doesn't happen in other species, just that they are the only known species that have a significantly long post menopausal lifespan in the wild.

@oakreef @tfb Which in turn might be an artefact of Whales and Humans being so long-lived.. I wonder if the mortality rate of great apes were lower, would we observe a proportionally similar menopausal period, then.

Totally unrelated BTW but I was recently looking at papers around brain size and intelligence among humans vs. nonhuman sapient species like whales, parrots, and elephants, which was a whole other interesting thing about convergent and divergent evolution in social and intelligent animals. Really interesting to learn from differences with our distant cousins to get a better bearing on ourselves.

@oakreef @seachaint Something like that yes. But the mechanisms of menopause seem to be very widely distributed and highly conserved across mammals, so I'm dubious of attaching too much importance to menopause at 40% of lifespan vs 60% or whatever.

@seachaint Interestingly I saw this because of an article about observation of menopause in a species of whale that is *not* highly social and where "grandmothering" doesn't happen much, raising the question of whether it provides some other benefit.

sciencedaily.com/releases/2021

@oakreef @seachaint Oh, they're still highly social! The question seems to be if their current social behavior is enough to make menopause worth the cost.

Not having read the study, I wonder if they consider that it might be a retained adaptation from their ancestors.

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