Female chimps discovered to display signs of menopause, a first for non-human primates


The last few months have seen major strides in chimpanzee-related research, from a study that figured out how chimpanzees form rudimentary languages to a study that examined how they reacted to being pranked with fake snakes. Now a study in the journal Science reveals there is evidence that chimpanzees can experience menopause — a phenomenon previously thought was only experienced by humans and certain species of toothed whales.
The researchers examined demographic and endocrine data for a population of chimpanzees in Uganda, one that had been studied by researchers for many years. They “found clear evidence for menopause in females living past the age of 50” and added that unlike the other species known to undergo menopause, “postreproductive chimps in this population are not involved in the raising of related offspring, suggesting that a different process is driving its development.”
This is not to say that there are no other animals where females regularly live beyond their reproductive years. Usually when that happens, however, it is because of artificially imposed conditions rather than occurring in the wild.
“We know that in captivity there are quite a few species (including chimps) that can have a substantial postreproductive lifespans, with many individuals living quite long after their last reproduction,” corresponding author Kevin Langergraber told New Atlas. “This is because they get medical care, have abundant food, and no predators. Our novel finding is that we have demonstrated a substantial postreproductive lifespan in a chimp population that lives in the wild.”


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