• Evidence for a maximum “shelf-life” of oocytes in mammals suggests that human menopause may be an implication of meiotic arrest

    • Susanne Huber
      Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna
    • Martin Fieder
      Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna
  • There is an ongoing debate why a trait like human menopause should have evolved. Adaptive explanations explain menopause with fitness benefits of ceasing reproduction, whereas non-adaptive explanations view it as an epiphenomenon. Here we present data in support of non-adaptive explanations of menopause suggesting a maximum shelf-life of oocytes. By analyzing the association between lifespan and age at reproductive senescence across 49 mammal species, we find that the positive association levels off in long lived species, indicating that the age at reproductive senescence has an upper limit. Only in baleen whales there seems to be no evidence for reproductive senescence. We suggest that apart from the baleen whales, the confinement of reproductive senescence in long-lived species may be the result of physiological constraints imposed by the long period of time oocytes remain inactive in an arrested phase of meiosis from their production in utero until ovulation. We therefore conclude that menopause may be an implication of the long duration of meiotic arrest caused by semelgametogenesis together with long lifespan.

  • PDF

  • http://phaidra.univie.ac.at/o:931159

  • Article

  • Published Version

  • Scientific Reports

  • 2018

  • 8

  • Springer Nature America, Inc

  • English

  • Open access

  • CC BY Attribution 4.0 International
    © The Author(s) 2018

  • 2045-2322

  • Evolutionary theory; Menopause