Demographic and hormonal evidence for menopause in wild chimpanzees.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Wood, Brian M; Negrey, Jacob D; Brown, Janine L; Deschner, Tobias; Thompson, Melissa Emery; Gunter, Sholly; Mitani, John C; Watts, David P; Langergraber, Kevin E
Year of Publication: 2023
Journal: Science
Volume: 382
Issue: 6669
Pagination: eadd5473
Date Published: 2023 Oct 27
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1095-9203
Keywords: Animals, Demography, Female, Fertility, Gonadal Steroid Hormones, Gonadotropins, Humans, Longevity, Menopause, Pan troglodytes, Uganda

Among mammals, post-reproductive life spans are currently documented only in humans and a few species of toothed whales. Here we show that a post-reproductive life span exists among wild chimpanzees in the Ngogo community of Kibale National Park, Uganda. Post-reproductive representation was 0.195, indicating that a female who reached adulthood could expect to live about one-fifth of her adult life in a post-reproductive state, around half as long as human hunter-gatherers. Post-reproductive females exhibited hormonal signatures of menopause, including sharply increasing gonadotropins after age 50. We discuss whether post-reproductive life spans in wild chimpanzees occur only rarely, as a short-term response to favorable ecological conditions, or instead are an evolved species-typical trait as well as the implications of these alternatives for our understanding of the evolution of post-reproductive life spans.

DOI: 10.1126/science.add5473
Alternate Journal: Science