thoughtful thursday – menopause


via Center for Whale Research

Image courtesy of the Center for Whale Research

Listening to an old Quirks & Quarks podcast (Mar 7 2015) discussing why menopause is rare in mammals (and why it exists at all). Killer whales & pilot whales also experience menopause, and unlike other non-reproductive, aging females in other mammal species, they don’t  leave their family group as they age. The theory: these elders have knowledge that is valuable to the success of their family (thus to the successful propagation of their genetics and thus their “culture”) and their social structure recognizes and values this knowledge by keeping the elder, non-reproductive females around to pass on this knowledge.

Wow. What an incredible lesson for us to take on.

National Geographic – After Menopause, Female Killer Whales Help Pod Survive

ScienceDirect – Current Biology – Ecological Knowledge, Leadership, and the Evolution of Menopause in Killer Whales