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What's the evolutionary explanation for the menopause?

Most wild animals remain fertile until they die. So do most human males. But human females undergo a steep decline in fertility from about the age of 40, leading to complete sterility within a decade or so.

To lay people, menopause is an inevitable fact of life, albeit often a painful one, anticipated with foreboding. But to evolutionary biologists, human female menopause is an aberration and an intellectual paradox. The essence of natural selection is that it promotes genes for traits that increase the number of your descendants bearing those genes. How could natural selection result in every female member…

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