Gexx in Knoxville

This blog is about Gexx, in Knoxville

Hypothetically Speaking or PaleoObama

Posted by Gexx on November 18, 2008

(note: I actually wrote this and published it yesterday, but it… disappeared. Somewhere, in the bowels of blogger.)

So, in anthro when discussing preshistoric hunter/gatherer populations there’s a social set up where the population lives at a year round “base camp” while individuals wander off to gather resources from pre-determined areas that surround the base camp.  Previous thought was that the women would stay behind to do the child rearing and whatever processing was required at the base camp, creating an extremely gendered view of work distribution.

Then along comes Dr. Kristen Hawkes from Utah (who, coincidentally, I met a few years ago and who was the Master’s advisor for my old boss) who while studying paleodemography realizes that more and more women in these early prehistoric time periods are living later and later into their post-menopausal age.  She determines (using much statistics and evidence and such) that there is a reason for this.  Older women can care for weened children, freeing adult females to also procure resources.  This eventually becomes a behavior which selects for genetic longevity.  If your grandmother lives longer, then not only is there a chance you’ll live longer bc of genetics, but you’ll also have the resources to facilitate living to a reproductive age because your gmother lived longer and then you’ll pass on those genes. 

Taking it a step further, it has been tied into why females typically have longer lifespans.  See, males were just along for the ride.  Their behavior didn’t promote their lengthened age but that their grandmothers kept them alive past childhood, because the highest rates of death are 1)<5years and 2)old allowed them to utilize and pass on their grandmother’s longevity genes.

Where am I going with this?

Grandmothering Hypothesis now has a modern correlate! (sample size, n=1)

Michelle Obama’s mother is moving into the White House, the home base, to help take care of her grandchildren!  This will allow Michelle and Barack to do anything that needs to be done.  I think that’s awesome, while their mother and father are off saving the economy and representing the past “Country No. 1” of the free world the girls will have someone to help them with school work, who will help them get settled in, who will take them to go visit things in DC.  That, First Family, is putting family first in a truely timeless way.  Kudos to you!

And that’s my geek out for the day.

Ok, I’m a nerd.

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