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Grandparent Advantage

March 11, 2009

Grandparents may have helped the human population expand.


Respecting our elders…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Grandparents are an important part of our lives, but it hasn’t always been that way. Central Michigan University anthropologist Rachel Caspari says that as the human lifespan began to increase, people started living long enough to become grandparents. With grandparents around to help raise grandchildren, our population soared. She says older people also served as conduits for important cultural information that allowed for the success of human societies, such as how to find food or avoid predators. Not only that, the increase in the population allowed creativity to flourish.

RACHEL CASPARI (Central Michigan University):
And what’s so cool is that you start to see a huge increase in the number of people who could be grandparents that coincides with a time that you see an artistic explosion in the record.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.