In Praise of Younger Men

Rather than menopause preventing older women from reproducing, a new study suggests it's the other way around, that a lack of reproduction—caused by a male preference for younger mates—led to the development of menopause.
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(PHOTO: WTL PHOTOGRAPHY/FLICKR)

(PHOTO: WTL PHOTOGRAPHY/FLICKR)

Attention ladies: Want to be more of a woman? Act more like a man. Date and mate with younger partners—and remain fertile for a lifetime. OK, we may not yet be able to pull off the latter, but the findings of biologists at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, just published in PLOS Computational Biology, suggest it might be possible. Led by evolutionary geneticist Rama Singh, the team concluded that menopause—in nature a phenomenon unique to humans and two whale species, the function of which has long stumped scientists—has little if anything to do with natural selection. Rather, Singh says, it’s no more than the evolutionary result of a historical male preference to mate with younger females. Which would mean menopause is cultural—and reversible.

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