Anthropology suggests that the grandmothers of the world are responsible for the evolution of pair bonding.
It is the grandmothers of the globe who have since eons shaped human evolution to the extent that the men form monogamous relationships. The “grandmother hypothesis” says that in prehistoric times, grannies molded human infants for longevity.
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This link between grandmothers and longevity is the explanation for elderly fecundity in males. Furthermore, the tendency for monogamy and protection of females is also a direct byproduct of grandmothering. Pair bonding is a uniquely human invention and it is a far cry from our promiscuous primate cousins.
"It looks like grandmothering was crucial to the development of pair bonds in humans," says Hawkes, senior author of the new study published online in the Sept. 7 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The evolutionary advantage of pair bonding was too high for humanity to give it up. And grandmothers played a critical role in seeing to it that the pair bonding tradition remained intact and in place.
"Pair bonds are universal in human societies and distinguish us from our closest living relatives," Hawkes and colleagues write in the study. "Our hypothesis is that human pair bonds evolved with increasing payoffs for mate guarding, which resulted from the evolution of our grandmothering life history."
Earlier theories suggested that male hunters passed on their traits to their kids and thus wanted to confirm their paternity status thereby endorsing pair bonding. The new knowledge passes a hint regarding grandma being at home to take care of the grandchildren and so mothers could have a string of babies.
The longer the lives of the primitive tribe members, the more the grandmothers could be available for their grandkids. This worked just fine on a familial level.
The males in prehistoric societies preferred younger women. In our chimp cousins, the males prefer older females though. With lots of old guys competing for younger females, there were such symptoms as male jealousy and patriarchy.
A nubile female meant that you could father more children through her. Those males who got their pick of the pack managed to leave behind more offspring thereby passing on their genes. Most of the tribes in those earlier times lived by hunting animals and gathering roots and berries.
The research began in 1984 via a study of the Hazda people of Tanzania. The elderly matrons of the tribe of Hazda people used to dig tubers to feed the infants who couldn’t find food on their own.
Thanks to grandmothering, the ages of their daughters got prolonged into the 70s and 80s. Thus longevity became a trend that was a singular human trait. In humans at least, it was not just males in search of mates to have sex with.
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Rather love and intimacy as well as a host of positive spiritual emotions entered the equation. As the saying goes: a house may be built of bricks but a home is built of hearts.